As the weather continues to cool down I find myself wanting soup more and more often. I think soup is just about as close as you can get to the perfect meal: warm, comforting, balanced and great for either lunch or dinner (and in some cultures even for breakfast!)
I usually make my soup with boxed stock, but nothing beats homemade soup made with homemade stock. This browned chicken stock is a great base for almost any soup – it’s richer than regular chicken stock, but the chicken flavor isn’t so overpowering that you can’t use it in a vegetable based soup if you want. I most recently used it in to make Pho Ba, and it was wonderful.
If you have a few hours one afternoon to let the ingredients simmer, you can easily make enough of this delicious stock to last you through a few pots of soup. Just divide it into smaller containers and freeze it – since you can cook it right from frozen, you’ll be able to make a great homemade soup whenever you want.
I don’t think making stock is as popular as it used to be. I know that until very recently most chicken I bought was of the boneless-skinless variety and since I rarely roast a whole chicken, I never had the bones that making stock requires. Plus, it’s just not something that I ever thought of. Then over the summer I saw Food, Inc and it really made me commit to buying better food: local, free-range, organic. I had already been trying to eat that way to some extent, but lately I’ve been making a commitment to eat this way as much as possible. Something also clicked and I am no longer grossed out by skin and bones. I want to be honest with myself about what I eat. When I’m eating chicken, I’m eating a chicken. Why hide that fact from myself?
That revelation was very important, because eating local, free-range, and organic meat is expensive!! The produce is ok, but the meat is another story. Especially if you’re looking at boneless, skinless chicken pieces. For the price of two packages of breasts, I can buy a whole chicken. When you divide it into breasts, thighs, wings, legs AND use the rest to make stock it bring the cost of each meal down significantly. $15 can now make a week’s worth of dinners plus some soup to spare instead of just two meals. Plus, well, this stock just tastes better!
- Browned Chicken Stock
- 1 chicken carcass
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 3 stems parsley
- 1 spring thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 whole peppercorns
- Preheat the oven to 450øF.
- Rinse the bones well until the water runs clear – it's ok if there is some meat on them still. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the bones on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, or until deeply browned.
- Place the bones in a very large stockpot and cover with water. Simmer for about an hour, skimming the surface occasionally to remove any foam.
- Meanwhile, add the onion, celery, carrot, and tomato paste to a skillet. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Tie the spices up in a piece of cheesecloth.
- Add the softened vegetables and the spices to the stockpot. Simmer for another hour or two, or until stock is rich and flavorful.
- Strain and discard solids. Cool the stock quickly in a water bath, then move to the refrigerator. Once the stock has completely cooled, most of the fat will rise to the top and can be skimmed of and discarded if desired. The stock can then be divided into smaller containers and frozen for later use.