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Soup and Stock, 2008/05/26:21:18

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Chicken Soup and Chicken Stock

Yesterday, you roasted a chicken, removed the meat from the bones, stored the meat in the freezer for convenient snacks, and stored the bones in the glazed and juicy roaster inside the refrigerator. So get the roaster out now. Leave everything in there--bones, organs, skin, bits of meat, juice, fat.

Fill the roaster with enough water to just cover the bones. If the carcass is intact, you can just squash it to make it more compact.

Bring the liquid to a boil, boil for about 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to about half or a little lower. The goal is to keep the liquid churning just a little bit, but prevent it from boiling over the sides of the roaster.

Now you can decide between making soup today, or making stock that you will freeze for later use (in soup, potpie, gravy, jambalaya, whatever).

Soup (choice 1)

Simmer the bones for at least an hour, until the meat and gristle are mostly detached. If you simmer them longer, you'll probably need to add more water.

Meanwhile, cut up a nice pile of your favorite chicken soup vegetables, in whatever size you would like to see in your bowl. My favorites, in quantities appropriate for a one-chicken soup, are:

carrots (5)
celery (5 stalks)
potatoes(3 large russet)

Also very nice in this soup is:

black pepper

Using tongs, a ladle, or a fork, remove most of the larger bones and anything that offends your sensibilities. This is a personal choice.

Think about whether there is enough meat left in the pot for you. Usually I find that what is left on the bones is plenty, especially given that the soup base is infused with liquid protein. But you're not me, so feel free to get those baggies back out of the freezer and add more.

Add vegetables. Raise the heat to about 3/4 full power and keep at a rolling boil for about 45 minutes or until samples of the vegetables are all tender enough for you.

Soup freezes really well. An individual portion of soup-ice is a very happy sight when you suddenly come down sick and your grandmother isn't there to rescue you. And this is the kind of soup that actually makes you better, because it's more than just a salty hot liquid. It's liquid amino acids, minerals, and vitamins, and only as much salt as you choose to add.

Stock (choice 2)

Stock is all the stuff that has been boiled out of the carcass before the vegetables are added to make soup. It is useful for all sorts of fancier recipes. Space in the freezer is at a premium, and I want to get every bit of food out of the bones that I can. Therefore, I simmer the carcass much longer than I do for soup, and I don't add more water. I just simmer for two or three hours and let the water evaporate. What remains will chill to form a stiff gelatin. If the gelatin sets before you can get it into freezer containers, reheat it a little to melt it.


Be sure to let the soup or the stock cool to room temperature before distributing it into containers to freeze. Use SMALL containers, preferably 1 pint for soup, half pint for stock--and preferable square rather than round, as round things are awkward and take up more space. You will NOT be happy, if you dump all your product into a 2-quart round bowl and stick it in your freezer. Not happy at all.
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