I made some stock the other day. A ton of it. Probably close to three gallons. We just recently have been getting rid of our plastic kitchen storage in favor of glass, and I just don't have enough of the glass containers lying around to just breezily relegate 4-5 of them to the freezer for the next few weeks. So, I did something that I had never thought to do before with stock, although I should have. Duh. I reduced it. There wasn't anything in the stock that would get bitter with boiling, so after straining it, I just let it boil. And boil. Until it had reduced by about 2/3, leaving me with a gallon of ridiculously gelatin-rich stock. And a rain cloud in my kitchen.
See--I'm not even kidding! Jell-o.
And then I scooped it into cupcake papers and froze it. I ended up with 30 frozen stockcakes, each ready to be reconstituted at 1:3, and they all live happily in the freezer in two gallon-sized zipper bags.
The Beloved brewed in Charlotte this weekend, so I thought it would be Kind of me to make him some dinner last evening, so I broke out 5-6 stockcakes and used them, along with some organic chicken breasts, kale and Other Vegetables, to make a Very Lovely and Filling Soup.
I hesitate to write this as a recipe, because making stock and making soup are really just techniques.
- Put a bunch of meaty bones in a pot.
- Add some aromatics and some acid.
- Cover with cold water.
- Slowly bring to a low simmer and walk away for several hours.
- Put what you like and what seems to go well together in a pot.
- Add stock and/or water and/or wine and/or Some Other Liquid.
- Season to taste.
- Simmer everything together for awhile.
See? Told ya. So, I'm not going to turn it into a Recipe. I'll just show you what I put in mine. Oh, I just remembered! As a bonus:
How to Make Perfectly Cooked Chicken for Soup
Poaching low-fat meats is a Dicey Proposition. If you let it simmer at too high a temperature or wander off and forget, you will end up with rubbery Meat Pucks. I thunk and thunk about how to get around this, because I was in the middle of reading a Very Good Book and didn't want to have to hang around and babysit chicken. And then I thought, "Hey lady! Why don't you just do it like you make hard-boiled eggs?" So that's what I did, and you can too.
- Put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your Liquids/Seasonings of Choice.
- Bring to a boil and let boil about one minute.
- Turn off the heat, slide the pan to a cool burner, and set a timer for 15 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, your chicken will be perfectly cooked.
This is the chicken to make if you want to make chicken salad. Or chicken soup, for that matter. Cool, huh?
Okay, back to the stock and the soup.
What I Put in the Stock (using what was in my freezer)
- three chicken carcasses, or parts thereof
- small handful of peppercorns
- 2" piece of gingers, scored
- 2 stalks lemongrass, pounded
- 1 large onion, skin on, quartered
- 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and broken in half
- 2 large ribs of celery, scrubbed and broken in half
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- cold, filtered water to cover
I let this simmer for about 8 hours, then I strained it, skimmed off a lot of the fat and boiled it at a full rolling boil until reduced by about 2/3. You can reduce it as much as you want. Or as little as you want, for that matter. Chill quickly (I put the stock pot in the sink filled with ice and some water and stir off and on until warm) and then either ladle into cupcake papers or other small vessels for freezing or just pour into containers. Either way, chill in the freezer first before freezing so your freezer doesn't have to work so hard.
Stockcakes. Very handy.
What I Put in the Soup
- 6 stockcakes
- 4 cups of filtered water
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Fennel Citrus Sea Salt, to taste
- Champagne vinegar, to taste
- fish sauce, to taste (it is The Best in chicken soup. Honest).
- 3 red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 big leaves of kale, washed and torn, large center rib composted
- 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables--mine contained zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, green beans and peppers
This was a very easy soup to make. I didn't do any fancy sauteing steps or anything. Once I poached the chicken and set it aside, I just added the vegetables to the stock/water mixture in the order from longest-to-cook to shortest-to-cook, although I put the onions, celery and carrots in at the beginning to add more flavor and sweetness to the soup.
When it came time to add the other vegetables, the kale went in first, followed by the potatoes, and the frozen veggies. The kale cooked for about 20 minutes, the potatoes for about 15 and the frozen vegetables for about 7. I added the chicken back in for the last minute or so of cooking, just to heat through.
And there you have it. Three Un-Recipes from me to you. Enjoy, and don't for one minute think that you can't add pasta to your soup. Or beans. Or lentils. Or barley. Make it with what you like, and have a lovely day.