So, here are all my excuses for the long absence: We were going on vacation, I had to wrap up stuff at work and pack. Then we went on vacation, which was very fun until I caught a miserable, debilitating cold which I carried back home with me. Then I had to recuperate, with a dull palate and a stuffed-up nose. For several days, all I ate was chicken soup.
At first, I was so dilapidated, I had to settle for the chicken soup from the Jewish deli around the corner that Anne would bring me in daily installments. Eventually, though, I found the energy to dump some chicken, water and vegetables into a pot and let it simmer for three hours while I watched a quarterlife marathon on Bravo. That is my way of telling you that this recipe takes practically no effort and even less skill. All you need is time.
This is my favorite chicken stock recipe; it’s the one I make every year at Passover (often, a triple batch) and fill with matzo balls (recipe to come in April). It’s a bit of a pain because of the two-day process, but it has the best flavor and golden color of any chicken stock recipe I’ve ever tried. I think the vegetables and aromatics give it a nice balance. Using chicken wings is key — the cartilage and bone in the wings give the soup more body and a very chicken-y flavor.
Once you’ve made the stock, you can use it however you like. If you’re going to freeze it all and use it in other soups and recipes, leave out the salt. When I want a basic chicken soup, I add cooked pasta (like shells or alphabet noodles) and sliced carrots. It’s also nice sprinkled with a bit of fresh dill. At Passover, I make a triple batch and fill it with matzo balls. Whether you’re sick or not, there’s really nothing like homemade chicken soup.
Chicken Stock for When You’ve Got Time
Adapted from Sara Moulton via Cooking Live
5 lbs chicken wings
4 quarts water
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, scrubbed and halved
1 parsnip, scrubbed and halved
1 celery stalk, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 sprigs fresh parsley
8 whole black peppercorns
salt to taste
In a large stockpot with a tight-fitting lid, combine the chicken wings and the water and bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that rises to the surface. Simmer for 20 minutes, skimming. Add the remaining ingredients (except salt) and simmer for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Remove stock from heat and strain into a large, clean pot. Let the stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill overnight. This will allow the fat to harden on top.
Remove stock from refrigerator. Using a large, flat spoon, remove the layer of fat. (If you’re making matzo balls, you can save this fat, depending on what your matzo ball recipe calls for.) The cold stock is going to look like chicken jelly, and you will fear I have somehow tricked you into making aspic. Don’t worry. All good stock should look like jelly when it’s cold; once you heat it up, it will return to liquid state. Return the stock to the stove, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 – 30 minutes to reduce the volume of the stock and concentrate the flavor. Taste the stock after about 20 minutes and continue simmering and tasting until the stock reaches desired intensity. The way I like to do this (because, remember, the stock doesn’t have any salt in it yet) is to pour a little stock into a small, custard cup, salt it lightly, and then taste. Once you’ve got a flavor you like, you can add salt to taste to the whole batch, or you can leave it unsalted if you plan to use it in other recipes.
Makes about 2 quarts.