For my first recipe, I decided to go with a staple – chicken stock. While I use canned or boxed chicken stock as default, home made always tastes better. Also, my caring instincts kicked in when J got sick and chicken soup has magical curing powers (it’s science), so it all fell into place.
I tried making chicken stock once before with the chicken carcass along with the usual carrot, celery, onion in my crockpot, and I didn’t get the intense flavor I was looking for. This time, I tried using whole chickens and the result was much better.
A few notes on the stock. Because of the long cook time, the stock cooks down which helps intensify flavor. Yes, 24 cups of water seems like a ton, but because it reduces, you won’t be getting 24 cups after you are done. You can also halve this recipe if you don’t have a pot that is big enough.
On this particular evening, I added frozen corn and peas to the stock, some of the shredded breast meat from the chicken, fresh chopped parsley and dill, and served it to my sick husband with toasted crusty bread on the side for dunking. Based on his health the next day, I’m still convinced chicken soup has special powers.
(recipe adapted from Ina Garten)
2 whole chickens
2 large onions, peeled cut in quarters
4 carrots, unpeeled cut in thirds
3 celery stalks with leaves, washed, cut in thirds
2 parsnips, unpeeled cut in half (optional)
15 sprigs fresh parsley
10 sprigs fresh thyme
15 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled cut in half crosswise
1 1/2 Tab kosher salt
1 1/2 tea whole black peppercorns
6 quarts water
Rinse off chickens and place in large stockpot with all remaining ingredients. Add 6 quarts (24 cups) of water and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour and then remove the chickens. Remove meat from chickens and set aside. Return chicken carcasses to stock and simmer uncovered for 3 more hours. Strain the stock through a colander/sieve and allow to cool, or use immediately for soup!
If you are going to freeze the stock, divide stock into freezer containers and put in the fridge. The fat will congeal at the surface and you can skim off the fat before putting the containers in the freezer.