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This Homemade Chicken Stock recipe is 'a game-changer when it comes to making great soup'

Food columnist Sarah Nasello writes, "While you could use only plain water, chicken stock is an easy and affordable alternative, and it adds great flavor and nutrition to the soup."

You can make chicken stock with ingredients used to build flavor that are cooked for 2-3 hours.Dave Wallis / The Forum
You can make chicken stock with ingredients used to build flavor that are cooked for 2-3 hours. Dave Wallis / The Forum
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FARGO — Over the past few weeks, I have received several emails from readers requesting my recipe for Homemade Chicken Stock and I realized that some folks are as excited by the arrival of soup season as I am. So, today I am focusing on steps you can take to make sure that you are ready to get your soup on.

The first step is to make your own chicken stock, which is a game-changer when it comes to making great soup. While you could use only plain water, chicken stock is an easy and affordable alternative, and it adds great flavor and nutrition to the soup.

You can make chicken stock with ingredients used to build flavor that are cooked for 2-3 hours.Dave Wallis / The Forum
You can make chicken stock with ingredients used to build flavor that are cooked for 2-3 hours. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Making your own stock is a great way to utilize leftover food scraps, like rotisserie chicken carcasses and bones, vegetable scraps, onion skins, fennel fronds and the stems from leeks, celery and fresh herbs. I save these items whenever I can and keep them in a large freezer bag so that I am ready to go whenever I need to make fresh chicken stock.

Making fresh stock is a slow process, as the liquid needs to simmer for at least two hours to extract all the flavor and nutrients from the ingredients. I always add a splash of acid to my stock, like cider vinegar or lemon juice, which helps to extract the nutrients from the chicken bones and pull all the flavors together. Once the stock is ready, I transfer it to quart-size freezer bags – the smaller sized bags are easier to store flat in the freezer and will thaw faster than if I put all the stock into one large gallon bag.

While the stock simmers, you can use this time to prepare the ingredients you will use to garnish soups throughout the season. Homemade croutons are one of my favorite soup garnishes, and I save stale bread and dinner rolls just for this purpose. Croutons are a great way to add texture to the soup experience, and they can be frozen for several months and will thaw quickly when ready to use.

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Freshly toasted croutons are ready to use as a soup garnish once they cool and dry. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Other garnishes that I keep in steady supply include bacon bits and diced ham, both of which also freeze well. Pumpkin seeds are another great way to bring texture to a soup, and a dollop of sour cream or drizzle of extra virgin olive oil work well to infuse the soup with a little lushness just before serving.

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Pumpkin seeds can be used as a garnish to jazz up a variety of soups and bring a little texture to the experience. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

If you are looking for some culinary inspiration, I have listed five of my favorite fall soup recipes at the end of this column. If you would like a printable copy of any of these recipes or have any questions about making your own chicken stock and garnishes, feel free to shoot me an email to sarahnasello@gmail.com . I always love to hear from our readers and appreciate all the inspiration you send my way. Happy souping!

Five Great Soups for Fall:

Carrot Ginger Soup
Creamy Turkey Wild Rice Soup
Fresh Tomato Soup
Easy French Onion Soup
Beef with Barley Soup

Homemade Chicken Stock

Makes: 3 quarts

Ingredients:

4 to 5 pounds assorted chicken parts (legs, wings, thighs) or 1 to 2 chicken carcasses
1 yellow onion, halved with skin still on
2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half, leaves on
4 garlic cloves, cut in half with skin still on
1 large bay leaf
3 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
6 stems fresh parsley (large handful)
1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
4 to 5 quarts water

Optional flavor-builders:

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Fennel fronds with or without stem (no bulb)
Leek leaves

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot (6 to 8 quart) and cover with 4 to 5 quarts of water, to about an inch below the top of the pot. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any fatty scum that rises to the top.

Once boiling, remove lid from pot and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer gently for 2 to 4 hours. If using fresh chicken parts, remove the meat after 2 hours and return the bones to the stock. Refrigerate or freeze meat for later use. Add more water if stock reduces too much.

Once stock is done, pour it through a fine mesh sieve and discard everything but the liquid. Let cool and then skim off any remaining fat from the surface. Refrigerate overnight and remove any congealed fat from the surface.

Transfer stock to smaller, airtight containers for storage (2 to 4 cups). Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for at least 2 months.

More recipes from Sarah Nasello
Food columnist Sarah Nasello will give away a dozen Italian Butter Sweets next week as part of her weekly SarahBakes Holiday Giveaway.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.
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