Tonight, last week's chicken finished its journey in a pot of spring vegetable soup.
I made the stock for this soup earlier in the week. I'm enjoying this newly developed habit of making slow-cooker stock after finishing a chicken meal. Once we cleaned the chicken off all of the bones, I threw them into the crock pot with vegetables and water and let it go overnight. Then I chilled the stock, drained off the fat, and made a quick vegetable soup with it. My only issue with the soup was that the herbs I added were somewhat harsh. If I had better planned ahead, I would have thrown herb stems in while the stock was cooking. Always use herb stems only as the leaves get weird and gross.
All of these things are optional and can be adjusted to fit the recipe you'll be making with the stock. I always use onion, carrot, garlic, and peppercorns, then add some aromatics. For Asian cooking, I used pieces of ginger. For Mexican cooking, I put in cilantro stems. I like the suggestion from Nourishing Days to keep carrot, onion, and celery scraps in a bag in your refrigerator or freezer until it's time to make stock. I'm sure this could be vegetable broth if you wanted to leave out the chicken, though I've never tried it.
adapted from Nourishing Days
leftover chicken carcass (plus uncooked wings if you have them from a cut-up chicken)
1 large carrot or 2-3 small ones, peeled and trimmed
1-2 celery stalks or leftover tops, roughly chopped
1 small or 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
stems from herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, or marjoram (or whatever you have!)
1-2 tbsp of any vinegar (I used apple cider for this one, rice wine and plain white for others)
1-2 tsp kosher salt (optional, depending on what you'll make with the stock--don't salt if you'll be making risotto)
Dump everything in a small crock pot. Fill to the top with filtered water. It is suggested that you let it sit for an hour to allow the vinegar to extract minerals from the bones--I've been too impatient to wait quite that long. Then put the slow cooker on low. I've let mine go for 20-24 hours, which makes a pretty dark and strong stock. I've read that others only go for 8-12. I think you can do whatever's convenient for you. Let cool, strain out the solids, and refrigerate. When the fat has congealed on top, strain again to separate the fat and either use or freeze for later use.
Spring Vegetable Soup
adapted from Spring Chicken Soup in Real Simple, April 2007
homemade chicken broth (above)
1 large turnip or 4-6 baby turnips, scrubbed and cubed
4 carrots and 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced into coins
8 oz asparagus, sliced into 1-in pieces (I didn't have this)
10 oz frozen or fresh green beans
1 beefsteak tomato, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Heat chicken broth in soup pot until simmering. Add vegetables and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve with crusty bread.