Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Chicken Stock

One of the three most touching things that my husband says about me is that I make incredible soup. (other two: I DON'T throw like a girl, and I have beautiful eyes). That may not seem like a big deal, but there is a history there.

When Jeff and I first got married, I ordered this cookbook from Healthy Choice where you get a new package of recipes every month and it comes in a huge notebook. I quickly started in on the soups. But every single one of them was bland and he began to dread my soups, and I began to dread making them. Well, all except the black bean chili. And of course, that's the one that gets lost.

Anyway, the reason they all were so bland? They were all low sodium. Sodium is good for you, and there is a significant amount of evidence out there that cutting back on sodium is not, even if you have high blood pressure or conditions like pre-eclampsia. Your body needs that salt to absorb water into your blood stream and to convey nutrients into your cells. So don't dread putting more salt in your soup, and even more than seems like should be good. The way it dilutes, it really isn't a serious issue. a few years ago when we discovered the Food Network, one of the advantages was I learned how to make good soup. And good soup starts with good stock. And it is very hard to make a rich flavorful stock without sodium. Not Morton's salt, but usually something with less of a metallic taste, like kosher salt or sea salt. Much better.

Stock is really healthy, as well, because it gets most of its nutrients from the bones -- lots of collagen and other stuff in the marrow.

The thing I really like about stock is that you can do it with leftovers. I will often roast two chickens, serve one to the family, and save the meat off of the other...then use the carcass of one (or both) and put them in my big 6 qt stock pot with 3 carrots, 3 celery sticks, 2 onions sliced in half -with skin, and cold water. It's important that it is cold.

Then I add some dried herbs like basil, thyme, or oregano. And then I also throw in two bay leaves and some salt (a couple of good pinches, maybe 1/2 a tsp.). I put the lid on, put the stove on low, and let it go overnight. Then in the morning I strain it through a fine colander and refrigerate or freeze the stock or use it immediately.

I'm trying to get in the habit of doing this every Sunday so I have stock for the next week. Soup is great for lunches this time of year, and chicken and rice soup, chicken and noodle, butternut squash, and so many others need this to start. I also like to poach fish in stock. (Glenda has two excellent recipes here and here).

Bon Appetit!


Maren said...

That's a great tip. I am going to try that...

Glenda said...

I just posted my chicken noodle soup recipe and linked back to your broth. I make my own broth like you; used the chicken and broth to make this soup. We're eating the leftovers for supper tonight.

DogMom said...

Mmmmm, sounds great!

Don't forget to make sure you get some iodized salt in your diet, too, though - neither Kosher salt nor Sea salt contain iodide.

Elephantschild said...

I'm a lousy, lazy cook. But I can make decent stock. I can make GOOD stock! The best stock (HAHA) advice I ever got is similar to yours: don't be afraid of the salt!!

Stock is what I use my big slow cooker for, since anything that's really a slow cooker recipe always ends up tasting gross at our house. I blame global climate change.

Marie N. said...

I love making stock and freezing it for later uses too. My favorite is ham, but my most frequent is chicken, and the largest quantity is turkey.