Just Like Ma Ingalls

Last week, at the height of the man-cold I decided it was high time I make some chicken soup.  And, unlike my mom’s yummy chicken soup I wanted to make it with my own stock*, something I had never done before…I know this isn’t rocket science but how much water do you use? How long do you cook it? What veggies are best to use?  Off to Goggle I went and found 1000’s of various ways to make chicken stock.  So next I shot an email off to my foodie friend Danielle who responded to me with this post.  Much like Danielle, I cannot follow a recipe or instructions  exactly so I used her post as a jumping off point.

I had saved the carcass from our last store-bought rotisserie chicken and was planning on getting another for Friday night (shut up, I know how to roast my own very yummy chicken but rotisserie chix have been $4.99 lately and we are a house with 2 parents who WOTH).  So Saturday afternoon I loaded up my Busia’s huge stockpot with the bones, some chicken skin, the wings and thighs – meat on – from Friday’s bird, veggies (minus the parsnips), a roughly chopped bunch of parsley because I think my mom used parsley and 2 nice big pinches of salt.
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A few hours later the house smelled divine.  About 5 hours later I poured everything out through a strainer into a smaller pot – a technique that could used some work…it wasn’t pretty.  I kept a few of the carrots and sliced them up, but didn’t do much with the rest of the veggies.  I had cleaned the meat off the bones pretty well before hand, so after giving our dog a few spoonfuls of the stuff, I threw it all away (don’t worry, he didn’t get any onions or bones).  I was kind of disappointed in the amount of stock I had, it only filled my smaller stock pot to not quite the half-way point.  My plan was to freeze some of the stock for future use in other dishes but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough for the soup so I just used it all.  Here is my batch of golden goodness:

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I added the carrots back in and threw in the leftover meat from the previous night which had been chopped (about 2-3 cups).  I had sent Mark to the store for egg noodles and he brought back Kluski Noodles which are fine, just not my preference  – I like the super-thin egg noodles.  Since the Kluski Noodles take so long to cook, I was worried about cooking them in the stock and over-reducing it.  So I opted to boil them separately in water with a bullion cube added (damn it, I can’t get away from them!) and then added the cooked noodles to the pot of stock.  The result was delicious.  The stock was rich and had just enough fat for a nice mouth-feel and was full of flavor.  It was so rich in fact that I could have easily kept some stock aside and maybe thinned the rest out for the soup.

The soup  was loaded with noodles and chicken – a perfect heartly meal for a cold autumn night. It has gotten better as we continue t0 dig into the leftovers. Plus I have a big container of soup in the freezer waiting for a cold day this winter. Next time I would make a few slight changes: I would add a handful of whole peppercorns and maybe a bay leaf to the stock, plus some more onion.  And I would add more water about halfway through cooking.  This round I didn’t add any water because the bones and vegetables stayed submerged the whole time, but I could have stretched the flavor into more stock without sacrificing any flavor.

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All in all this was way easier then I imagined and I felt quite proud of my finished dish.  The only thing you really need is a full afternoon at home to monitor the pot.  Thanks, Danielle for helping me figure it out!

*My mom kind-of made her own stock in that she boiled a whole chicken along with veggies and used that as a base, but she also ALWAYS added a box of Mrs. Grass’s Soup Mix with a “golden flavor nugget” (i.e. bullion) for extra flavor.  She blamed it on the fact that today’s chickens not being as good as they used to be (which is true).  But now I know that my way is much better.  I was always oddly fascinated by that flavor nugget as a kid.

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