I arrived home at lunch time on Saturday to hear my 7 year old telling his father that his chicken soup “just isn’t the same as mums!” He then proceeded to declare that “Mum makes the best chicken noodle soup ever.” Such compliments don’t happen every day in my household, especially in regards to meals that I really want the kids to eat.
What has changed recently is that I’ve finally started making my own chicken stock. My three year old keeps getting sick and ends up awake half the night. I wanted to do something that would give us all a healthy boost to get us through the winter. Stock is packed full of nutrients, is easy for young children to eat and is a very soothing dish on a cold day.
Funnily enough the stock that was the basis of the “best chicken noodle soup ever” was made by my mother while babysitting for us. I had been planning to make stock using Jude Blereau’s recipe but just hadn’t quite got around to it… it just wasn’t part of my kitchen repertoire. I had the impression that stock takes a long time to cook, and yes it does, but it doesn’t require much attention at all. In fact wintery days at home are the perfect time for simmering up some delicious and nourishing homemade stock.
My Mum’s Stocks and Soups basics
Anyway, Mum tends to just cook using whatever is around – so here is what she put into the stock.
- Chicken carcasses – I can fit 3 in my large pot.(I bought organic frozen raw carcasses but you can use the frame left over from a chicken roast dinner instead)
- Some chicken meat if you have some (this makes a richer stock for great chicken noodle soup).
- A few onions and carrots (lots of people use celery but recently I’ve added some peeled and chopped celeriac as a seasonal substitute for celery).
- Herbs – fresh are great if you have them but dried do as well.
- A couple of bay leaves and some black peppercorns.
- A couple of teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (this helps liberate some of the minerals from the chicken bones).
- Enough cold water to cover the chicken.
Stock really is easy to cook as you just chuck all the ingredients in the pot and let it bubble gently away. I usually let the stock cook for about 4 hours, but longer is even better.If you can keep the pot barely boiling then this is great. I’ve got a gas cooktop so I probably boil my stock a bit much – but to compensate I just add more water to top it up when the need arises. From time to time you will need to scrape the scum off the top of the stock. I have to admit I’m not terribly diligent in regards to this task. I do a thorough scrape in the first 20mins of cooking and after that the scum seems to “self-remove” by sticking to the side of my pot leaving a high tide mark as the water level recedes. Talk about low maintenance.
My seven year old loves chicken noodle soup, made by simply adding noodles and some chicken meat to my homemade chicken stock. Then sprinkled with grated cheese. Easy!
My three year old prefers my pumpkin and red lentil soup – put chopped and peeled pumpkin and kumara in a pot (twice as much pumpkin as kumara) and add stock to just cover. Bring this to the boil and then add 3 tablespoons of red lentils. Cook until the vegetables are soft then serve.
More on stocks and soups
Stocks and soups are hearty and nutritious. It is great to use homemade ones where you can because of the great flavours this gives you. You also avoid preservatives, salt and packaging if you make your own.
You can whip up a basic stocks and soups with leftover chicken carcass after a roast. Just boil the bones in some water and add in anything you like to add flavouring. Even a more elaborate one like Jamie Oliver’s Easy Chicken Soup is easy to create.
What to know more? Read this article by Sally Fallon ‘Broth is Beautiful’.