When the going gets tough, the tough get cooking,” I repeated to myself as I drove down Highway 280 to my parents house. My dad was down with a tooth ache. My mother was taking him to the dentist, so my plan was to make a pot of chicken soup for them to share when they returned. I was grateful to have a jar of homemade stock leftover from a huge batch I made earlier in the week. The hard part of this story is that original reason for making the stock was to bring to a dear friend who had lumpectomy. It feels like one of those “bad” times when my people aren’t feeling so good.
It’s during these “bad” times, that I head to the kitchen to cook. I may not be able to solve the problem, but I can make soup. And the truth is, there is much comfort in the cooking, especially for the cook. This is why I regularly make big batches of stock to keep in the freezer. Once I have stock, any number of soups can be made depending on the who, the where, and the why, or it can be simply served as is with a little salt.
For the chicken soup, I sauteed finely chopped onions and carrots, then added a little salt and poured in the stock. I let it simmer until the broth was flavorful and slightly sweet, then added chopped chicken thigh meat and Italian parsley. Once the chicken was cooked through, I turned off the heat and left the pot of soup on the stove for my parents to find when they got back from the dentist’s office.
As the tough cooks say “I will be back.”
Tough Girl Chicken Stock
The longer you cook the stock the more flavorful it becomes. I prefer to use chicken wings because they make a rich, flavor broth that doesn’t much straining. The addition of lots of carrots make slightly sweet stock, however, if your taste is more savory, you can substitute celery for half carrots.
Makes 12 to 13 cups
4 to 5 pounds chicken parts, preferably wings and necks
1 large onion, peeled
5 large carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
15 to 20 parsley sprigs or stems
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot with about 4 quarts (16 cups) of water.
2. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer. Cook, skimming any foam for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, taste-testing with a little salt.
3. Turn off the heat and let cool. Use a ladle to skim off some of the fat that has risen to the top (or you can do this after refrigerating the finished stock). Strain and discard the remaining solids.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Use the stock immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. To freeze, let cool and pour into ziplock bags or into jars (leaving room at the top). It will keep in your freezer for up to 3 months.