Posts Tagged ‘stock’

I posted an Instagram photo of soup I made the other day, and had quite a few friends ask me what the recipe was. My little girl got hit with a cold the other day, and I knew only one thing would help: a bowl of my homemade chicken soup. But rather than adding pasta or potatoes, I decided to give it an Asian kick. It was simple, delicious, and soothing.

Making the ingredients for a great bowl of chicken soup, or wonton soup for that matter, takes a little time. But once you’ve got them, you can freeze them, so that putting them all together takes no time at all.

 

 

The key to a great chicken soup is making your own chicken stock. Let’s be honest, nothing out of a carton can possibly compare. For one thing, I buy the best quality pastured chicken I can get. Here in Rhode Island, that means buying from local farms like Pat’s Pastured in East Greenwich. They’re at my farmers market every weekend.

I prefer buying a whole bird, roasting it for dinner, then removing all the meat from the carcass before I start making stock. If I’m making fried chicken for dinner, I’ll cut the raw bird up into pieces, then drop the raw carcass into a pot to start the process. Either way–a cooked bird or raw bird works great. (Just remember that a cooked bird can have some salt on it, so you don’t want to add any.)

Making chicken stock is incredibly easy. It just takes time, which is an ingredient many people don’t have enough of. Honestly, though, if you’ve got time to binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix or watch a football game on a Sunday afternoon, you can make stock. If you can’t make stock at the same time you’re making dinner, simply put the carcass in a Ziploc bag and toss it in the freezer until you’ve got more time.

If you don’t want to deal with cutting up a chicken carcass, buy a pack of chicken parts. It doesn’t really matter what parts you use, as long as it’s something on the bone. You want all that good fat and gelatin.

Once you’re ready to make stock, fill a large pot with clean, filtered water. Drop in the chicken carcass or pieces. Chop an onion in half (you don’t have to peel it unless it’s dirty), 2 or 3 celery spears, and 2 or 3 carrots. (Wash the carrots well, or just peel them.) Everything goes in the pot. Turn the burner on high, and let it come to a boil. If it’s boiling too hard and spilling over, reduce the heat to medium.

Let it go for at least an hour, two is better. If it looks like too much water has evaporated, simply add more. How intense you want your stock is really up to you. You can reduce it like crazy to make something very concentrated, or you can cook it down to a point where it’s user-friendly right away. The best way to know is to taste it along the way.

When making your stock, feel free to add any other ingredients you like. But I stick with only the onion, carrots, and celery–avoiding garlic, salt, bay leaves, and other flavorings–adding them only when I use the stock at a later time in a particular soup or recipe.

Once the stock is done, I let it cool a bit before I strain it and pour it into individual plastic containers with tightly sealing lids. (Don’t use glass if the stock is going into the freezer!) Then it’s off to the freezer until I need to use it in a recipe.

When it’s time to make soup, I run the frozen container under warm water, and drop the frozen “block of stock” into a sauce pan, adding a little water to it, and setting the burner on medium to thaw. Then it’s time to decide on what I want to put in my soup. Most of the time that simply means using whatever I’ve got in my fridge.

When I made my almost-instant wonton soup the other day, I had some carrots and kale in the fridge. I peeled and thinly sliced the carrots, and I removed the stem from the kale before chopping it up. I dropped the veggies in the soup and brought the heat up to high to get it to a boil.

If I’m using potatoes, I usually peel and chop them into small cubes and add them raw to the boiling stock. If I’m adding chicken, I usually choose already-cooked chopped breast meat. And if I’m using pasta, I use dry or pre-cooked, but I only add the pre-cooked pasta at the very end to avoid it turning mushy. When making chicken noodle soup, I add a pinch of salt and, for flavor, a pinch of dried bouquet garni to the pot.

With my wonton soup, I skipped the pasta and potatoes, because I had a package of dumplings in my freezer. A half-dozen of them, still frozen, go right into the boiling water. They’re fully cooked in about 5 minutes.

 

These dumplings were delicious in my soup.

 

Once the dumplings are cooked, the soup is done! I turn the heat off, and add a couple of drops of sesame oil to the soup, mixing it in well.

Once I’ve placed the soup in the bowl, a few splashes of soy sauce, and it’s ready to serve.