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Homemade Chicken Stock

From Soap Opera Café, by Robin Mattson

4 pounds chicken parts or a whole bird
4 quarts water
2 large onions, cut into 8 wedges each
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch lengths
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 or 2 leeks (white and tender green), trimmed, rinsed thoroughly, and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, mashed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
6 large sprigs fresh parsley
Several sprigs fresh thyme or dill or 1 teaspoon dried

Rinse the chicken well under cold running water. Place in a large stockpot, add the water, and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the scum as it rises to the top. As soon as the water boils, reduce the heat to a simmer; if it continues to boil, the stock will be cloudy.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, leek(s), garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. If necessary, add enough additional water to cover the ingredients by at least 1 inch.

Simmer the stock, only partially covered, for 3½ to 4 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. If there is more than 2 quarts (8 cups), pour into a clean pot and boil until reduced to concentrate the flavor.

Let the stock cool, then refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight. Lift off and discard the fat that congeals on the surface. If not used within 3 days, transfer to individual containers or heavy-duty plastic bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 2 quarts.