It is the season for chicken soup. I have always been intimidated by making my own chicken soup, largely because making chicken stock from scratch seems like such a daunting and arduous task. However, I’ve been roasting so many chickens lately and just end up throwing out the carcass that I decided to investigate stock recipes. I spoke with Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, and asked her for advice on making homemade chicken stock. It turns out making chicken stock could not be easier.
The secret to delicious chicken stock is in the bones. The bones, dark meat, wings, back, and carcass make the most flavorful broth. So take a raw chicken and put basically every part except the breast meat (save that for something else) into a large pot. You can also use a cooked carcass. Use as much boney, dark meat chicken as possible. Add water to your pot, but just enough water to barely cover the chicken. You can always add more water later, but if you use too much water, you will not always be able to add more flavor. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer, skimming off any froth or scum. Add carrots, celery with the leaves, onion, parsley, and any other herbs of your choice. It is best not to add salt and pepper yet, but rather wait until after the stock has cooked to best gauge the seasoning. If your stock seems too dense, you can add water as you go. Simmer everything for about three hours, but do not let the pot come to a rolling boil. You can drain your stock, discarding the bones, vegetables, and the cooked chicken if you prefer. Skim the fat from the stock, but to make this step even easier, cool the stock completely before skimming. The stock will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, but freezes wonderfully for several months. Cook up some stock and enjoy delicious soups all winter long. Once you have your stock made, the soup possibilities are endless.
You can find all of the ingredients for chicken stock at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets. Lily’s Eggs and Healthy Family Farms both have delicious chickens. Lily’s Eggs is at every market and Healthy Family Farms has chickens at the Saturday Downtown and Sunday Main Street Markets.