Greetings, all! Suze here. I’ve been battling a cold for the last few days and I’m still under the weather. I’m in the middle of a few projects too, so I’m not all in the mood to cook–or eat–complicated meals. When I’m sick, or someone in the house is sick, my thoughts naturally turn to that old standby, chicken soup. It’s good for the soul, and it’s good for busy people.
Now, the Scribes run a judgment-free blog, and if you want to open a can of Campbell’sand crumble in some crackers, nobody here will think any less of you. But I’m going to let you in on a Secret (and you know how we love Secrets around here!). Making your own chicken stock, which you can morph into countless meals, is easy-peasy. No peas needed though. Peas are Suze’s most-hated vegetable.
Suze’s Easy-Peasy Chicken Stock
To get started, you’ll need a whole cooked chicken. I happen to have a rotisserie attachment for my gas grill, and unless it’s the dead of winter I rotis a whole chicken at least once a month. But you can also bake a whole chicken, or go the absolute easiest route and buy one at the store. Make and eat your dinner of choice with the chicken.
After dinner, pick all the extra meat off the chicken carcass and store the meat in the fridge. Place the carcass, bones, skin, (yes, the skin. It adds lots of flavor to the stock, and the fat will be removed, I promise), and the tips of the wings into your slow cooker. If it doesn’t fit, you can break up the carcass so it does. Add the following:
-2 carrots, peeled or washed well and chopped into a few big pieces
-2 stalks celery, chopped into a few big pieces (this is a great time to use up the leaves!)
-1 or 2 yellow onions (cut off the root end and discard) Chop the rest of the onion into large pieces, papery skin and all. The skin adds some color to the soup)
-2 bay leaves
-1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (no need to chop) (optional)
-1 parsnip, peeled or washed well and chopped into a few big pieces (optional)
-a teaspoon of celery seeds (optional)
-a few grinds (or a pinch) of white or black pepper
Now add 2 to 3 quarts of water. The measurement doesn’t have to be exact, and it depends on the size of your slow cooker. I add enough water to submerge the carcass about 2/3 of the way. Put the lid on the slow cooker and turn it on high for an hour or so. The contents look like a disgusting mess. Don’t worry. Before you go to bed, turn the slow cooker to low.
In the morning, turn off the slow cooker. Let the mixture cool slightly, then strain the liquid into a large container. I like to strain twice, once through a colander with small/medium holes, and then again through a fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids, put a lid or plastic wrap on the container in which you’ve saved your stock, and refrigerate all day.
Once it’s good and cold, the fat will rise to the top. Just scoop it out and throw it away. What’s left is your chicken stock (it may be thick like Jell-O – don’t worry about that. It’s normal). There may be some fine solids at the bottom. I just ladle off the stock gently and throw the stuff at the bottom away. But it won’t hurt you even if you eat some. Now you can save out about a quart and freeze the rest in containers.
See? That wasn’t hard at all, was it? A little bit messy maybe, but not at all difficult.
Suze’s Chicken Corn Chowder
Now, when you want chicken soup, here’s what you do. Chop up some fresh celery and carrots (a couple of each) and half a small onion if you like, add them to a medium sized saucepan, and saute the veggies in a little butter or
olive oil till they are soft but not brown. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer over medium heat for ten minutes or so. If you want to intensify the chicken flavor, add a spoonful of chicken bouillon powder (I usually use Herb Ox instant bouillon and seasoning), or a cube if that’s what you have on hand. We’re not competing on Iron Chef here. It’s OK to use this stuff, and it really helps the soup.
Add one can of creamed corn (two if you like a thicker chowder) and the leftover chicken from the first meal. Add salt (you won’t need more than a pinch) and pepper to taste. Heat gently, and serve in big mugs or bowls.
Enjoy! I’ll be posting other recipes that use this stock as a base, so check back from time to time for those. Heck, come back every day! There’s always something interesting going on at the Scribes.
When you’re sick, or busy, or both, what’s your favorite go-to meal? (And for your sake, I hope you’re just busy!)