This is a good time to make chicken stock. It is delicious and warming as chicken soup, and it’s also good to freeze and have ready for those times that you want a quick dinner, or feel like you need an extra boost of nourishment. I freeze some plain stock without the chicken, to use in risotto (where it’s far superior to canned broth!), to make sauce to accompany chicken dishes (like lemon chicken), and as a base in variations of pasta fagioli and minestrone soup. For an easy and simple soup, just combine the stock and chicken meat with some pastina. Or you can add vegetables like carrots, onion, and escarole for a heartier meal.
It does take a few hours, so make it when you plan to be home for a good stretch.
This is a very loose recipe – lots of room for creativity and using whatever vegetables you like or have on hand.
- 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, OR 2 bone-in chicken breasts, with skin on
- 2 onions, cut in half
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 pieces each
- 3 stalks celery, cut into 3 pieces each
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into a few large pieces (optional)
- 3 leeks, cut into a few large pieces (optional)
- 1 garlic clove (optional)
- handful of parsley (other herbs as you like, such as herbs de provence, thyme, etc…)
- teaspoon of whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
1. In a large stockpot, brown chicken pieces and onion in olive oil until brown on all sides.
2. Once chicken and onion are browned, add enough cold water to fill 3/4 of pot.
3. Increase the heat, and bring mixture to barely a boil. Skim off any foam that appears on the surface.
4. Add the rest of the vegetables to the pot, and lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
5. Cover pot partially, and let simmer for 3-4 hours.
6. Turn off heat, and let mixture cool slightly.
7. Drain stock into another large stockpot. Discard vegetables and put chicken aside to cool.
8. For chicken soup: Remove meat from chicken pieces and combine with stock. Enjoy the soup as is, or add any chopped vegetables you like with the soup, and simmer until vegetables are cooked as you like them. Season with salt and pepper.
9. For plain chicken stock: Stock is ready to use, but be aware that you will need to season the stock with salt. Or, fill quart freezer bags, or ice cube trays with stock, and freeze for later use.