When people see a recipe using chicken stock, more likely than not, they open a can or box of chicken stock from the supermarket. What they might not realize is that making homemade chicken stock is really no more difficult than boiling water. The only difference is that you add some vegetables and spices to the water to flavor it. Once you make your own chicken stock, you will not want to go back to canned or boxed broth (except when you’ve run out of homemade stock from your freezer).

The basic ingredients in a good homemade chicken stock are chicken bones (and skin sometimes), onion, celery, carrots, peppercorns and bay leaves. You can also add parsley, ginger, and thyme. If you make roast chicken, save the bones and skin. While you’re washing the dishes after a roast chicken dinner, simply put the chicken bones and skin in a stock pot, along with some onion, celery, carrots, peppercorns and bay leaves, and let it simmer for a few hours. If you don’t have a roast chicken carcass, you can use chicken backs, chicken wings, or other chicken parts. After the chicken stock is done cooking, let it cool to room temperature, then strain the broth and divide it into containers that are can be stored in the freezer.

Once you have a batch of homemade chicken broth, you can either refrigerate the broth if you’re planning on making some chicken-based soups over the next few days, or freeze it for later. Either way, it is best to skim off the fat that floats to the surface. It’s easier to remove the fat layer when the soup is cold since it will solidify.

Some of my favorite chicken-based soups are Chicken Noodle Soup or Chicken Rice Soup with Vegetables, Lentil Soup and Minestrone Soup. The nice thing about making your own soup is that you can choose your favorite beans, grains and vegetables to add, and the sodium level is a lot lower than store bought soup.

Homemade Chicken Broth

Ingredients:

1 roast chicken carcass or 2 pounds of chicken parts

2 carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 3″ pieces

2 celery stalks, cut into 3″ pieces

1 large onion, cut up

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 one-inch chunk of ginger, crushed, optional

a few sprigs fresh thyme, optional

1/2 a bunch of fresh parsley, optional

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, covered, for 2 hours. Strain soup and store in freezer containers (4 cup containers work well for most soup recipes).

Note: If you use chicken parts such as chicken legs and thighs, cook the chicken parts for 35-40 minutes until cooked through. Then, take the chicken out of the pot and remove the meat for a different use. Return the bones and skin to the pot and continue cooking the broth. Chicken meat would be delicious added back to the soup if you make Chicken Noodle Soup, for example.

Copyright 2011 by Jeanette Chen

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