If you roast a whole chicken, don’t throw away the carcass! Instead, use it to boil up some homemade chicken stock; a kitchen staple that can be used in countless culinary applications or even as a healing remedy. For more flavorful foods, substitute stock for water to make whole grains, braised greens, soups, and stews—or just pour it into a mug to sip. No matter how you use it, it almost always improves the health properties of whatever you are cooking. Minerals from the chicken bones include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. By themselves, each of these has great health-boosting properties, and together, they’re reported to boost immunity, making chicken soup a go-to-favorite cold and flu fighter.
Stocks can be simmered for up to 4 hours (sometimes longer), but this recipe is a time-saving introduction for the busy or beginning cook. Stocks are traditionally prepared with carrots, celery, onion, and fresh herbs, which lend depth of flavor and added nutrition. Once your stock is ready, you can season it further with salt, pepper, or fresh lemon juice to taste.
90-Minute Chicken Stock: Good for the Soul (and the Immune System!)
1 whole chicken carcass
4 celery sticks
1 small bunch fresh thyme
4 to 5 quarts water
- Pick the meat off the chicken carcass and set meat aside. If there’s a little meat stuck on the bones, it’s okay. Place the carcass into a stockpot.
- Wash and roughly chop the vegetables. Add the veggies and thyme to the pot.
- Add enough water to the pot to submerge all ingredients.
- Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat and gently simmer for about 90 minutes. Occasionally, skim any foam off the top.
- Strain the stock through a mesh strainer into another pot, discarding the carcass, veggies, and any other solids. Use stock, or let cool and store. When chilled, hardened fat will form at the top of the stock. You can simply remove it before reheating.
- Add seasonings to taste, such as salt, pepper, and lemon if desired.
- Chicken Stock with Fresh Rosemary. Replace the thyme with fresh rosemary.
- Chicken Stock with Parsnips. In this cold-weather variation, roughly chop 2 or 3 parsnips and add them with the carrots, celery, onion, and herbs in Step 2.
- Chicken Stock with Sautéed Vegetables. Before boiling the stock, sauté all your veggies in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add to the stock mixture and boil as directed.
The flavor of the stock will be quite light at first; however, it will continue to concentrate as it cooks down. If you want a richer result, let your liquid simmer for up to 4 hours. You may need to add more water to accommodate the longer cook time.
Mineral-rich, comforting, and grounding, chicken stock is truly good for the soul. The homemade version is also better than anything you can buy in the store, because at home, you control the quality of the ingredients. This recipe is for a 90-minute stock, but for even more bone-healing benefits, simmer it longer. The more concentrated the liquid, the more nutrients it will contain.
It’s okay to make more stock than you need, because it freezes well. I like to pour leftovers in ice cube trays or small glass containers before popping them in the freezer. This way, if you only need a tablespoon or a few cups for a recipe, you don’t have to defrost an entire gallon! Oh, and with those leftover chicken bits, make a tasty little chicken salad!