There are so few things that stretch across all cultures, we can seemingly argue about anything and everything under the sun. However, even in today’s hyper-charged atmosphere of politics and world events, there is one thing we all can peacefully talk about.
Food, or, more specifically, comfort food. No matter where you come from, there is always some meal, some dish that always brings you comfort. No matter the distance from which you last tasted it, that first bite can instantly take you back there.
A meal from grandma’s house, BBQ’s at the river, the diner that was around the corner from your first apartment. It doesn’t matter, we all have that place, and every one of those places have the same thing in common. Every tasty morsel was made lovingly and with care. You could always taste it.
But there is another thing that sets our beloved comfort food apart. It is almost always made from scratch. Today I want to share with you a few tips for you to use at home. Simple steps that can change your next meal from “Oh joy, it’s Sunday soup” to “Yay, it’s Sunday, can we please have your soup again!?!?”
Start with the ends…?
I loathe wasting food. It is a true pet peeve of mine, one in which I have been known to throw a side eye at people tossing out good food. To utilize everything, I freeze many items for later use. Some items are the ends and scraps of certain vegetables, such as onion tops and peels, same for celery (the leaves have the best flavor), carrot ends, even tomato and cucumber ends. Really, anything that is not from the cabbage family, or anything bitter, or with strong color (beet).
I also only purchase chicken on the bone and skin on, and do the butchering myself. Buying whole chickens and value packs are an excellent way to stretch your dollar, and removing the skin and bones is not hard (I will be doing a follow up video teaching techniques), and you have the bonus of using the scraps to make a lovely homemade chicken stock for free.
Ah, chicken stock, the glue that binds…well, it’s actually a terrible binder. It is however, an extremely versatile ingredient, and one that has more uses than just soup. I have an ice cube tray that I use just for stock.
I like to use a cube or two when sautéing vegetables, or when I need a little extra liquid to make a pan gravy. For soups and stews, I freeze two cups at a time in freezer bags. I usually have 4-6 bags in my freezer at any given time. So, take advantage of your odds and ends, save a bit of money, and get cooking!
Below is an easy recipe sure to put smiles on your loved ones faces. 😊
- Chicken scraps from one whole bird (bones, skin, fat, giblets)
- 1-2 pounds vegetable scraps (1-quart freezer bag full)*
*note*- If using fresh, substitute 2 medium onions, 4 celery stalks (with leaves), 4 carrots peeled. Cut veg into large cubes.
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- Fresh herbs, I am partial to oregano and parsley for this recipe, a few sprigs each.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper
- Three quarts cold water
In a large stock pot combine all ingredients. Be sure that the water at least covers the chicken and veg. Set burner to med/low, and allow the stock to come up to a simmer. Keep an eye on the stock from time to time. Try not to let it boil. If a white foam starts to develop on the surface, you can skim this off with a soup ladle and discard.
Let the stock cook for at least 4 hours, and up to 8, then remove from heat and, using a fine mesh strainer, pour into a 2 to 4-inch-deep pan (try not to put more than 2 inches of stock in each pan). Let stock cool for an hour, and place in the fridge, uncovered, overnight. The next morning the stock will have a thick layer of fat on the surface. Simply scrape off with a large spoon and discard.
The stock will be very gelatinous, and can now be portioned off to freeze, or use within the next three days (covered, in fridge).Be sure to remove thick layer of fat before using, or freezing.
A frozen bag will take a couple of days to defrost in the fridge, or you can just toss in the pot to melt on low heat. At this point you can adjust the salt. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out!
From there you only need to use your imagination to create delicious food!
Please enjoy with loved ones, or wherever you feel most comfortable.
PS – See other stocks in the “Soups” tab.