Nourishing Chicken Stock

Makes 8 C

chicken stock

Fall is here.  Yes, even in the desert.  It’s not quite like what I’m used to.  There isn’t a crisp chill in the air, there aren’t any changing colors of leaves and there isn’t that clean, cool smell in the air.  Instead temperatures are leaving the 100s on a regular basis, the beautiful sunset is coming earlier, and mornings are cool and resemble spring. Still the cravings for nourishing soups, everything apples, pumpkin and squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, those are the same.  Fall lives in me apparently.

The basis of all soups and most meals should be a beautiful stock.  Not only will this foundation of flavor elevate your dish, it’s also a great way to get some serious nourishment into your (already nutritious) meals.  There’s a lot of talk about stock, broth, bone broth, what’s the best way to do this or that.  Everyone has their own version and that’s the reason there are so many answers.

The distinction between a stock and a broth is usually salt.  Stocks by their virtue simply provide a base from which all other foods and flavors can spring from and come to life.  You will add salt and other seasonings to your dish, so there doesn’t need to be any in the stock.  Also, as the stock reduces, so does the concentration of salt and this becomes difficult to control.

Broths are seasoned.  You can drink them on their own or use them like you would a stock, but carefully.  There is such a thing as too much flavor in a dish and you don’t want a lot of competition going on, on your tastebuds.  Stocks are meant to be balanced yet neutral. Broths are meant to impart a bolder flavor of their own.

You want the most wholesome ingredients going into this base.  It’s what good cooking is about.  And, good cooking refers both to tasty and healthy.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew that instinctively, so they chose whole and fresh vegetables and bones from animals of which they’d already consumed the meat.  (Back then, it wasn’t labeled organic or grass-fed because everything already was those things!  For our times though I would recommend starting your dishes off well and going with as much organic as possible and definitely, grass-fed, pastured, free-range, farm happy animals.)

Bone stocks provide nutrients from the bones of the chicken, beef, fish, whatever you’re using.  There you will find minerals such as calcium (bone-building), phosphorus (regulates intracellular pressure) and magnesium (regulates over 300 enzymatic reactions).  The latter of which is a mineral most of us (in the U.S.) are chronically lacking.  Equally important are the cartilage and gelatin found in bones.  These goodies literally moisturize our joints and skin, aid in repairing of bone and our own cartilage and help our digestion along.  For more in depth info, I found this page at The Jade Institute to be really informative.

Ingredients need not be limited to the ones below.  You could throw in leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, etc.  Stay away from cruciferous vegetables for stocks and also spinach.  They don’t do so well in stock company.  This is a simple stock, so simple you can easily throw it together weekly.  There are many lovely stocks with earthy or sweet flavors, fish or curry flavors, or the roasted flavor of mushrooms.  Yum.  Those recipes to follow…eventually!

Stock up and enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped in 2″ pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of your knife
  • 2 potatoes, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, quartered
  • 1 bunch of parsley (or stems)
  • 1 2 square inch piece of kombu
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 t fennel seeds
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 10 C filtered water
  • large container of ice

To make:

  1. In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add all the vegetables.  Saute for a few minutes, just so the vegetables are coated and starting to brown.
  2. Add parsley, kombu, spices, and chicken carcass.  Then add water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
  3. Simmer for 4 hours.
  4. When stock is done, strain the chicken and vegetables out as soon as you can.  Then place the pot in an ice bath (a larger container filled with ice) to cool it quickly.  Divide stock into containers to either refrigerate or freeze.

*If refrigerating, use stock within 5-7 days.  If freezing, stock will last at least 2 months.