Easy recipe to make your own chicken broth

The soul of any soup is its broth. If you have a weak broth or broth, you’ll have a weak soup, no matter how good the other ingredients are. With so many stocks and decent broths available in stores, why should you make your own? For me, it boils down to three simple reasons. First, I can control the amount of fat and salt and end up with a healthier broth. Second, I can use ingredients from other foods. Third, and most importantly, it just tastes better. When was the last time you heard someone say “this has too much flavor”?

A good chicken broth starts with simple ingredients. Obviously, you will need chicken bones and cartilage. This can come from a rotisserie chicken or buy it as is. You can add meat if you like, but it’s the bones and connective tissue that will add the most flavor.

Apart from the chicken you will need some aromatic vegetables, the classic options being carrots, onions and celery. Leeks, fennel root, and parsnips are other vegetables I like to use. And I almost always add a garlic clove or two. Whichever ones you choose, they should be cut into large pieces, not too small.

The last ingredients to choose are herbs and spices. It is best to use fresh, whole herbs whenever you can. Thyme, sage, parsley, oregano, and bay leaves are my go-tos. To make life easier, use food-safe string like butcher’s twine to tie the herbs into a bundle, and tie the other end of the string to one of the pot handles or to a wooden spoon. This will allow you to easily remove it. The last spice to add is peppercorns, which you can simply add. One thing I don’t add is salt, because I can always add it to recipes that use broth.

There is some discussion as to whether you should roast chicken bones before using them to make stock. Honestly, there’s only a slight difference in flavor, so I don’t think grilling bones is worth the effort. However, if the chicken was already grilled, you won’t have to make that effort. It is true that the bones of a full roast will have lost some of their flavor, but the flavor quality of the roast will make up for it.

When you have all the ingredients in a soup pot, add enough cold water to submerge the ingredients. It is very important that the water is cold, as different organic molecules will be extracted at different temperatures. A slow increase in temperature will allow time for this extraction to occur.

Bring the water to a simmer, not a full boil, and keep it there for at least two hours. Occasionally add a little hot water to replace that lost to evaporation. Also, be sure to keep the ingredients submerged. An upside down collapsible basket steamer is a great way to do this. As the broth simmers, you will get a layer of foam on top, which needs to be skimmed off from time to time.

When you’re done simmering, use tongs to scoop out any bones and larger vegetables, and then use a ladle to transfer most of the liquid to another pot. When it is safe to do so, pour the remaining liquid through a strainer to remove any small solids and return all the liquid to the soup pot. Reheat it and reduce the liquid by gently boiling it. Reducing the broth will intensify the flavor, and if you reduce it by half, you will notice that the broth has a slightly gelatinous consistency when cooled. This is a good indication that you’ve extracted a lot of good things from the bones, because it’s the collagen in the bones and joint tissue that makes the broth move, and it’s full of flavor and nutrients.

You can use the broth right away, or store it in the fridge for about three days, or in the freezer indefinitely.

The whole process is simpler than it seems, but it requires time and attention. But if you give it a try, I think you’ll agree that it’s worth the effort.

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