Now that the weather is getting very chilly up here at Cal-Wood all I can think about is soup.
Something simmered for a long time. To me it is almost a visceral need to cook chicken soup at this time of the year. I love to take my time with the process and stretch it out over a couple days. First I will roast a few chickens. Usually two large sized birds. Chicken stuffed under the skin with butter, garlic and fresh herbs and roasted will usually result in a bird that is tender and juicy. If I have some fresh herbs left over or a whole lemon I will stuff the cavity of the bird for even more flavor.
After the chicken is cooked put it in the fridge overnight to cool. The next day pull all of the tender meat off the bones and set aside. The bones w go into a large stock pot covered in water. After the bones have been simmering for about 1-2 hours add what veggies clippings or what I call stock stuff. There is always a gallon size bag in my refrigerator labeled “stock stuff”. Into this bag I put all carrot peelings, onion skins, garlic skins, herb stems, celery tops and any other aromatic veggie scraps. If there is not at least 3 cups of scraps in the bag I will add some more celery, carrot or onion. This mixture should simmer for 4-5 hours on low. If you can get it low enough for just a few bubbles to rise to the top of the stock then your stock will be clear but if you are in a hurry you can crank the heat up but you stock will be more cloudy.
What you are looking for is the healthy cartilage in the chicken carcass to melt and incorporate into your stock. This is what will cause your stock to be jello like after it cools. If you use an already roasted carcass from a roasted chicken instead of a raw chicken then the process has already started in the roasting phase. You will also have a richer tasting stock from roasted bones because the browning from roasting boosts the flavor.
After the stock has simmered for 4-6 hours then strain the whole mess. I use a chinois but you can use a fine strainer or cheese cloth lined strainer. Put the stock in a shallow pan or several shallow pans to cool for at least 45 minutes outside of the fridge and then move to the fridge to cool over night. If you do not cool your stock in shallow pans with about 1-2 inch sides you risk the stock growing bacteria while cooling. If you cool in deep containers then your stock will not cool fast enough.
After the stock has cooled over night you can remove any fat from the top easily.
Here is the recipe for my favorite Chicken Soup Base. I call it Chicken Soup Base because it is the base for many yummy dishes. I freeze it and can later defrost and add all kinds of other starches or seasonings to make several different soups or stews.
Here are some simple ideas:
Add soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, green onion and udon noodle for an Chicken and Udon Noodle Soup.
Add cooked rice for Chicken and Rice Soup.
Add egg noodles for Chicken Noodle Soup.
Add Thai red curry paste, coconut milk, 2 tbs sugar, rice noodles and top with fresh cilantro for Thai Curry Chicken Soup.
Chicken Soup Base Recipe
2 Cups Cooked Chicken Diced or pulled into large shreds
8 Cups Chicken Stock
6 Celery stocks medium dice
3 Carrots medium dice
1 Onion medium dice
1 Clove Garlic minced
1 TBS Flat Leaf Parsley chopped
1 TSP fresh Rosemary finely chopped
Butter or Olive Oil for sauteing veggies.
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste.
Saute veggies in butter or olive oil just enough to coat the veggies. Season veggies with salt before sauteing to concentrate flavor. Saute the veggies until soft.
Add veggies, chicken and rosemary to chicken stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste. Add parsley before serving.