It’s a soup-making weekend, so we started off by making a simple light chicken stock. A good stock is an essential base for many soups, and it really does pay to take the time to make your own stock – and it’s so easy.
You will need to make sure you have a large enough pan or stock pot.
Step 1: Firstly, roast a chicken in the oven, and when you’ve finished with the meat, strip the carcass. I always take the skin off because I don’t like the fat floating in the stock. You can poach the chicken directly in the pot, but I prefer the meat roasted, and I’m going to use it in tomorrow’s soup.
Step 2: Prepare the vegetables. You need to flavour the water, and I find that carrot, celery and leek work well. Just wash them and chop them roughly into large chunks, you don’t even need to peel anything. You can add onion and garlic, but I prefer to add the garlic to the soup ingredients rather than the base. You could also add chilli, depending on what recipe you are planning to use the stock in.
Step 3: Select some herbs and spices. I picked some lemon thyme, parsley and bay leaves from the garden and made them into a bouquet garni, then added the celery tops for added flavour, 8 or so peppercorns and some salt. The lemon thyme gives the stock a light, lemony flavour but you can use normal thyme, rosemary or even sage.
Step 4: Put all of the ingredients into the large stock pan, just covered with cold water. Put the pan on to boil, and once boiled turn down to simmer. The length of time you simmer the stock for depends on the depth of flavour you are after, but it should be at least 1.5 hours. After this time I remove the bundle of herbs, and leave the stock on the stove for another hour. You will notice the colour changes and the smell throughout the house is lovely. Keep tasting to make sure you don’t need more time or more seasoning.
Step 5: Once you’ve tasted it and are happy with the stock then it needs straining. I remove the chicken bones with tongs and then strain the liquid through a sieve. You want to make sure it is clear and smooth and there are no vegetables or bits floating in it. You can then use the stock for any recipe – or freeze it for the future.
- Chicken carcass/bones
- Celery (inc tops)
- Lemon Thyme
- Bay leaves
Words and pictures by @ladylavish