Attention all Kmart shoppers!!
One of my favorite things in the world to cook is soup! I don't know quite why, but there's just something about giant pots of hot bubbly goodness that make my heart do little jumping jacks of joy!
Any of you who've made soup know that nearly every soup calls for a stock of some sort--mostly chicken, right? I used to buy big cans of Swanson Chicken Broth when I would make soup. Back in our poor days, I'd just throw in a few buillion to flavor the water in our cabbage soup (okay, we didn't eat cabbage soup like Charlie Bucket's family, but we were hurting for a while during my husband's radio days--p.s. never let your kids become radio disc jockeys--I'll explain why sometime). Then while I was working, I just bought boxed quarts of chicken stock.
I started making my own chicken stock once I quit my job. Three dollars a quart for the store-bought stuff when you need two quarts? Well, let's just say that's six times more than I make in a year now, m'kay??
These days, I make it regularly and freeze it in quart sized portions. A big pot usually makes three or more quarts, so it saves me quite a bit of money!
Here's my secret to making chicken stock the lazy way--rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. It's already cooked, so it saves you quite a bit of time and you can make a quick and easy meal with the meat. I usually make chicken salad, barbecue shredded chicken, or I cut the chicken off the bones and we eat it as is.
Now that I'm done blabbing, here's how it's done. Amounts aren't important in this recipe, with the exception of salt. I suggest you start with 1/2 teaspoon for 8 cups of water and then taste at the end and add more to taste. My pot makes approximately 12 cups (3 quarts) of stock and I use at least a teaspoon. Have I ever mentioned my love affair with salt?? I eat it on just about everything, including apples and melons!
In a large stockpot, place the chicken carcass, carrots (peelings work just the same), a quartered onion (you don't need to remove the paper, just cut off the ends), celery (the leafy part works well, so I usually just save those), a garlic clove (smash it a little before you throw it in), salt and pepper, and a bay leaf.
Fill the pot up with water, leaving a few inches at the top. Place your pot on the stove and turn it up to high. When the water comes to a boil, turn the stove down to low and leave it alone for a few hours. You can check on it and if needed, skim the top a few times if scum accumulates.
After two hours, taste it and and add salt and pepper if necessary. Let the stock cool for an hour and then strain through a fine strainer into a large bowl, discarding the solids left in the strainer. I freeze my stock in one quart containers so I can use one for small pots of soup and two for large pots.
It does take some time, but 95% of it is inactive cooking time. Trust me, the flavor is rich, the cost is low, and it tastes so much less salty than buillion. Your soups will thank you. Well, if soup spoke, it would thank you!