Back to basics: Soup Chick's soup stock recipes
After a cathartic hour cleaning out my freezer last week, I realized that the stockpile of homemade soup stock I assumed was hiding in the back, buried under sugar-free ice pops and waffles and bags of slow-roasted tomatoes, was gone, finito, used up, nowhere. Yes, I make stock every week, and yes, one of my slow cookers seems to have a rotisserie chicken carcass permanently embedded in the ceramic insert, yet I had far less chicken stock on hand than I thought I did, I was out of beef and vegetable stocks altogether, and I longed for some of the aromatic corn stock I made this summer.
'Twas a sorry state of affairs.
Start with rotisserie chicken stock (in the top photo), the very first recipe I posted on Soup Chick. I buy a chicken almost every Sunday, pick away at it during the week, and by Thursday or Friday the carcass goes into my 4-quart slow cooker to yield 6-7 cups of lovely stock. Use this method to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of your Thanksgiving turkey carcass, too. The stock picks up a subtle roasted flavor when you begin with a roasted chicken or turkey.
For the pure, unctuous flavor of chicken, go with my basic chicken stock from scratch. I like to buy a large roaster, add some aromatic vegetables, and let it burble away on the stove, uncovered, so the whole house fills with its perfume.
I don't often make beef stock, a labor of love that takes hours and hours, though it's not at all difficult. It's worth it, if you want to make an authentic French onion soup or add stock to your beef stew. Brown the bones and vegetables in the oven, then simmer low and slow.
When it comes to making fish stock from fish heads, I draw the line. I've just never been able to do it. Instead, I make a mock fish stock that stands in quite well in chowders and light fish soups.
I've yet to find a store-bought vegetable stock I like half as much as homemade stock. For my basic roasted vegetable stock, I use the slow cooker to bring out the flavor.
For the first time, last summer I tried corn stock. Oh, it was good, especially in soups with a Tex-Mex flavor profile. I haven't tried making it with frozen corn on the cob, but now that's on my mind, so stay tuned.
Sometimes, you want to start from scratch, but don't quite have the time. In that case, and only in emergencies, I give you permission to transform store-bought broth into a soup base that tastes almost homemade. Pair a can of stock with real vegetables and herbs, and you'll be amazed at how different it will taste.
If you're planning to freeze your stock, be sure to check out my tips for how to freeze soup.
And, here's a final tip from the Soup Chick, who occasionally forgets to follow her own advice: be sure to label all of your stock containers before you freeze them. It turns out that one frozen stock looks pretty much like another.