Stock is fundamental in a kitchen. To use it for soups, stews, risottos, and it’s the base for a good sauce. Sometimes if I’m in a hurry, I use the stock cups or cubes you can buy in the shops. But the best is still to make a good stock every now and then yourself! Why? It’s fresh, it’s healthy, it’s tasty and it often contains less salt, E-number and flavouring. And it’s fun to make it yourself! Your whole house smells wonderful too (if you have pets make sure they are out the kitchen). Also, it is not that much work. You don’t have to stand next to your pan and watch it all the time. If you make a stock every 2-3 weeks, use half and keep the other half in the freezer to use next time (instead of water), your stock becomes more and more intense. When I start with a new chicken stock, like in this recipe, I use about 3 liters of cold mineral water for a big free range chicken. When you have some stock left in the freezer, you can decide next time to add only 2 liters of water and about 750 ml of your stock from last time. Keep in mind that the more often you keep your stock, the more intense the result will be, and the less salt your ‘new batch’ will need.
1 big free range chicken, raw
2 leeks, roughly chopped
3 thick carrots, roughly chopped
2 big onions, peeled and cut in big chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 celery sticks, roughly chopped (some of leafy celery green with it is fine too)
4 sprigs of thyme
3-4 bay leaves
handful of fresh parsley
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 liters of cold mineral water
salt, to taste (when I make a new batch I usually put in 2-3 teaspoons of salt the first time)
Bring a big soup casserole together with the chicken, leeks, cloves, carrots, onion, garlic, celery, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, nutmeg, pepper, salt and cold water to boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, turn down the heat and let it just simmer. You must see some movement in the water, but definitely don’t let it boil like you boil pasta.
Leave your stock simmer for about 2-3 hours. Scoop every now and then the ‘scum’ off with a skimmer. This will turn up automatically on the surface.
Take the chicken (if you are going to use the meat still) out and allow to cool. Take a big strainer and a second bit pan and put a broth cloth (or tea towel) in it. Sieve all the bouquet out of the soup and throw away. (or give to your chickens if you have them). You end up with a nice, tasteful and bright broth you can use for lots of dishes, soups and sauces. Taste and season if necessary.
With this chicken stock you can easily make a simple and healthy chicken soup by adding the meat of the chicken you used, or (if you prefer) the meat of a (new) rotisserie chicken. You can add some new vegetables like carrot, mushrooms, celery and leeks (this time all finely chopped). To add some vermicelli (sort of thin pasta) and fresh parsley, is also delicious. When I am sick (maybe once a year) this soup is a great medicine.