Making your own chicken stock has many benefits. Saving money on store-bought stock is just the beginning of the story! It is traditionally known as "the Jewish penicillin" for a good reason. It provides a remedy for many illnesses, strengthens the immune system and heals the digestive system, which is the seat of the whole body's immune system.
The book Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, has much to say about meat and fish stocks on pages 116-126. Our ancestors were much more prone to using the whole animal and used nutritious, homemade stocks as a basis for soups, stews, sauces and more. When properly prepared, stocks contain minerals that are drawn from the bones, cartilage, marrow and vegetables in the stock and these are made available in our bodies. Sally Fallon teaches that adding acidic wine or vinegar while cooking the broth aids in drawing out the minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. I love knowing that my kids will be getting these important minerals in their cup of soup!
I have also learned that the gelatin in a homemade meat broth lends amazing digestive health benefits, so don't get rid of it when it congeals on top of your chilled broth. As I said earlier, the lining of the intestines is where the nervous and immune systems begin. If our intestinal health is compromised, the way we poorly absorb and digest food will lead to all sorts of diseases and disorders and a weakened immune system. Page 124 of Nourishing Traditions quotes Hanna Kroeger from Ageless Remedies from Mother's Kitchen. It says,
"Why is chicken soup superior to all the things we have, even more relaxing than "Tylenol?" It is because chicken soup has a natural ingredient which feeds, repairs and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine. This inner lining is the beginning or ending of the nervous system. It is easily pulled away from the intestine through too many laxatives, too many food additives...and parasites. Chicken soup...heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength."So, if you or a loved one is suffering from any sort of illness, or just tends to have any sort of digestive or inflammatory issues, it seems Homemade Chicken Soup is the way to go! And your stock can be started with either a whole chicken, or the bones of an already devoured rotisserie chicken. The bones are the essential ingredient! So, never throw away those bones. Just stick them in a big pot of water with some veggies, some sea salt and vinegar and simmer away.
Here is how I make a very easy, homemade chicken broth:
1 whole chicken (or the bones of a whole chicken)
1 whole onion, quartered (no need to peel)
2-3 carrots, washed and cut in half (no need to peel)
1 head of garlic, cut in half (no need to peel)
1-2 Tbsp sea salt
1-2 Tbsp vinegar (depending on size of chicken)
3 celery sticks, chopped (I don't use because my husband hates celery!)
parsley and/or bay leaves if you have them
Place all ingredients in a large pot and fill with water just until covered. Bring to a boil and skim off foam if it forms, then reduce heat to simmer. Keep covered and simmer for 6-24 hours. If you would like, save the parsley and add it closer to the end of the cooking time. Sally Fallon says it will "impart additional mineral ions to the broth." It seems like a very long time to simmer, but this process really draws all the rich nutrients out of the bones and imparts a delicious flavor to your broth! When finished, strain the broth through a colander into another pot. Let the remaining chicken and vegetables sit in the colander until cooled enough to handle. Then, pick out the meat (if you used a whole chicken it will be falling off the bones) and use it in chicken soup, in a casserole, chicken salad or chicken burritos. The possibilities are endless!
Storing & Using Broth
When I make a large pot of chicken broth, I typically cannot use the whole thing right away. I let it cool, then put some in a jar in the refrigerator to be used in cooking for the next few days (7 days, tops) and pour the rest into ice cube trays or other containers for freezing. When you freeze broth in an ice cube tray, pop out the frozen cubes into another storage container like a ziploc freezer bag. Then, you have chicken broth to use in recipes, 2 Tbsp at a time! I also like to measure out 4 cup portions and freeze those in a ziploc bag so that I will have them to make a quick soup for lunch. They melt very quickly in a covered pot on the stove. Then, I can just add some chopped veggies and have a delicious, homemade soup ready in twenty minutes! Broth can also be used when sauteing vegetables, meats or added to sauces instead of water.
What is your favorite soup recipe to use chicken broth in?