Saturday, January 7, 2017

Back home again and wet weather cooking

Chicken stock and homemade soup from scratch

It's really nice to be settling back into normal living again at home after a wonderful family Christmas beside the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean on the Western Australian coast and the thriving Moore River. We've returned to a lot of very welcome rain, which has however resulted in our New Guinea bottle brush tree toppling over again, and the Thumbergia vine on it's trellis to collapse. So our second day home was spent in the garden resurrecting the trees and cleaning up the yard. We also had computer problems but Mr. HRK seems to have solved those so now I can reconnect with  my blog and my lovely friends.

Stand up paddle boarding on the Moore River, Guilderton, W.A.
Western Australian Christmas tree, a burst of colour in the dry bush
Wet cool weather in the tropics has lured me back into the kitchen so in between working in the yard and dodging the rain, I made some healthy chicken stock from scratch. I need to know I have plenty on hand in the freezer. I'll freeze it in 500 ml containers, as it is the basis of so many great dishes, sauces and stews. Now that I have the time to make it, I begrudge spending good money on buying stock that has too much salt and preservatives added. It will keep frozen for several months, or clear stock will keep for five days in the refrigerator or longer if reboiled.  During the hot summer months, I don't need a large pot simmering on the stove adding to the heat of the house, so now is the time to do it when it is cooler.

Impressive sand dunes along the length  the Moore River
Long slow cooking of the chicken bones produces the essential gelatin in the stock which has so many health benefits. I like to believe that chicken soup, homemade that is, assists in healing the nerves and our gut, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes us and gives us strength. My Mother did it, her Grandmother did it, and Sally Fallon, a respected nutritionist and author of Nourishing Traditions still bases a lot of her cooking on homemade broths and stocks.

I use the following recipe when making my chicken stock, and because it is now quite difficult to buy chickens which produce a good gelatin in the stock I add a few more chicken feet, necks, giblets and wings, basically chicken bones,  as these are all so easily obtainable from the supermarket. The result is a rich chicken stock which sets like gelatin. It needs to rest, covered in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours so that any fat sets on the surface. I scrape the fat from the top, freeze the stock in  500 ml containers, and some in ice cube trays for adding to sauces etc. I generally also then use one portion of the stock straight away to make chicken barley soup, barley being my very favourite grain at the moment, particularly in summer. Although lentils and pulses are really beneficial for a change.The soup can also then be frozen in portions for those nights after a hectic day when a nourishing quick meal with a slice of toast is all that is required.

I hope that young career people, arriving home from a busy day's work, or stay at home Mum's who are busy caring for their family and home, or retirees like ourselves, can all at times just relax and enjoy a nourishing and sustaining bowl of soup in the cool of the evening.

  • 1 whole free-range chicken plus a couple of extra feet and necks, or 1 1/2 kilos of bony chicken pieces including necks, wings, frames, feet (perhaps 4)
  • gizzards from one chicken (definitely optional)
  • 3.8 litres or 4 quarts  (1 gallon) of cold water
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped with skins still on
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  1. Cut the whole chicken into several pieces. Place the chicken pieces and extra bony parts in a large stainless steel preserving saucepan with the water, vinegar and all the vegetables except the parsley. Let it all stand in the pot for about 30 minutes.
  2. Bring to the boil, and remove the scum that rises to the top.
  3. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you simmer the stock, the richer and more flavoursome it will be.
  4. After about 2 hours though, remove any chicken pieces with a lot of flesh on them, such as breasts and legs and remove the flesh, as it will now be cooked. This can be placed in a plastic container in the refrigerator for using later on sandwiches, in curries, salads, enchiladas or just chopped up in your soup. Or freeze it for later. If it is left in the stock to simmer for too long it will become too mushy to use. Return the remaining bones etc to the pot.
  5. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add the chopped parsley. This will add additional minerals to the broth and lots of flavour. I rarely leave mine to cook overnight if I have a good quality chicken and I am using some other bony parts. 
  6. After it has cooled, very carefully remove the whole chicken pieces with a slotted spoon, and remove any remaining chicken meat from the carcass.
  7.  Strain the stock into a large bowl or two, and reserve for at least a day in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals.
  8. Skim off the fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
After the fat is removed and discarded, some of the stock can be used straight away to make a chicken barley soup, or as basis for any kind of soup you desire.

Cook an easy chicken soup:

I just cook up some chopped onion (1), diced carrot (2)  and chopped celery (2 stalks) in a little butter and olive oil until onion is translucent and vegetables are softened. Other vegetables such as zucchini can be added.  Then I add 500 ml of the stock with some additional fresh chopped herbs such as parsley and thyme, about 1/4 cup of washed barley, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. The barley will take about 45 minutes to soften and then your soup is basically done. Add some salt and pepper to taste,  a splash of fish sauce (my secret ingredient), add some finely chopped cooked chicken, and serve with some more chopped parsley or grated Parmesan. Easy peasy and delicious and so good for you. 

Oh and I generally serve it with a slice of nice hot buttered multigrain or sourdough toast as well.

I'm still enjoying the rain and cooler weather!

Warmest wishes

Pauline xx

1 comment:

  1. Broths and stocks are so rich in lovely flavour it seems just a wonderful bonus that they're said to be good for you! I just saw some bone broth on sale in a store-it was $30 for a jar! :o


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