I have a thing for homemade soup. Really. It’s one of the reasons I get so excited about the arrival of autumn each year. When there’s a chill in the air, the soup pot comes out.
I know, you really can make soup any time of the year but it’s especially appealing in the cooler months. I do my best to keep a stash of this chicken stock in my freezer at all times. It’s that good. It’s based on a recipe by Ina Garten found in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa At Home …just tweaked a bit, here and there. It is so flavorful and can be used as the base for so many healthy and delicious dishes.
The initial prep work on this couldn’t be easier. No dicing required …just a quick chop, here and there. It is all literally dumped into a giant stockpot. That’s the one part of this recipe that can’t be tweaked. You must have a very large stockpot. One that will hold from 16 to 20 quarts. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one but it does have to be large. I’ve seen stainless steel versions offered on Amazon for under $25. Well worth the investment, I’d say.
You won’t believe the aroma coming from your kitchen while this collection of goodness is simmering. The total simmer time is 5 hours. But after 1 1/4 hours, you’ll carefully remove the chickens from the pot. Once cool enough to handle, the chicken meat is pulled from the bone and set aside. The bones are then returned to the bubbling stock for the remaining simmering time.
I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz about the benefits of bone broth these days. It is recommended that we enjoy a serving once a day. Good quality organic bone broth is quite pricey but it is available at the high-end food stores. You can easily make your own bone broth at home but I must warn you …the average cook time is 24 hours. The key is to cook the bones down enough that you are left with a concentrated broth …also referred to as gelatin.
The gelatin in bone broth is thought of as having potent healing properties. Gelatin has been a known remedy for many different digestive and gut-related conditions. Gelatin contains the amino acid glycine, which is needed to complete the detoxification process and to assist the liver to function optimally.
I may be skipping ahead here, but I must show you what can be achieved after a five-hour simmer and a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Do you notice how the “jello-like” gelatine has formed in the stock? The jiggly texture? That’s the good stuff …so good for you. And with all of the wonderful vegetables and herbs that we’ve added to the mix, the full flavor is amazing. It’s a win-win.
Once the stock has finished cooking, it will have decreased in volume. That’s okay. It just means that the flavor will be more concentrated. At this point, all of the contents must be strained to remove any and all solids. I find the easiest method is to place a large micro-mesh colander over a large pot. I use my Pyrex 4-cup glass measuring jar to scoop out the contents a little bit at a time. Once you’ve removed enough and can easily handle the large stock pot, pour the rest into the colander.
Have your storage containers (wide-mouth Ball jars are ideal) ready and lined up so that you can fill them as you go, making room in the large pot during the straining process. I typically use quart-sized jars but you may want to include a few smaller ones. Totally up to you.
You’ll notice some fat rising to the top of each jar. After spending the night in the fridge, that fat will solidify and can easily be removed with a spoon.
The stock can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months. If you are planning to freeze some, (highly recommended) be sure to leave at least an inch of air space at the top of each jar. The frozen stock will expand and needs some room to grow.
Be sure to label each container and include a “use by” date. There’s nothing worse than browsing in your freezer, wondering what those mystery items are in there. And how long have they been hangin’ out in there?
This stock can be used to add to sauces and stews or to just sip on for the health benefits. I like to add it to my homemade soups along with regular organic broth. The flavor really is intense and will take your next pot of soup right over the top. Guaranteed.
homemade chicken stock
Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home
Sip a cup each day for unlimited health benefits
Use as a base for soups, stews, gravies & sauces
- 2 4-5 pound organic chickens
- 3 large yellow onions, rinsed, unpeeled, quartered
- 6 carrots, scrubbed, unpeeled, halved
- 4 celery stalks with leaves, rinsed, cut in thirds
- 4 parsnips, scrubbed, unpeeled, cut in half
- 20 sprigs fresh parsley
- 15 sprigs fresh thyme
- 20 sprigs fresh dill
- 6 fresh bay leaves
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half crosswise
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Place the chickens and the remainder of the ingredients in a 16- to 20-quart stockpot. Add 8 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for a total of 5 hours, skimming off any foam that comes to the top.
After simmering for 1 1/4 hours, carefully remove the chickens with a large slotted spoon or a spider spoon strainer. Place the chicken on a large platter. Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones and set aside. Place the chicken bones back into the stockpot to simmer for the remaining time. When thoroughly cooled, divide chicken into four 8-ounce packets to be refrigerated or frozen for future use.
When the stock has simmered for a full 5 hours, remove from the heat. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a micro-mesh colander and discard the solids.
Pack in quart containers and chill overnight. If desired, remove any visible fat from the top of each container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
If freezing stock, be sure to leave ample room at the top of each container for expansion.
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