In our house we use chicken broth for a lot of different things. Anything that calls for water such as rice or quinoa we cook in chicken broth to give it an extra dimension of flavor. Also if you follow this blog, you know that I tend to make a lot of soups. Soup Sundays are a common thing in our household even in the summer. Because we go through so much of it it’s easy for us to just buy at the grocery store.
What I have found over the years though, are not all broths or stocks are created equal. You have to be careful and really read the labels of these broths. Many broths include “natural flavors”, caramel color and even added sugar. Even the old Whole Foods recipe had a bunch of this stuff in it – despite being organic. They have recently changed their recipe to eliminate all of this. I am now waiting for them to do the same with their beef broth.
So on the weekends when I have a little more time and I am going to make a pot of soup, I like to make homemade broth as well. It is amazing the difference in flavor and COLOR that homemade broth has. It becomes this deep rich dark yellow color. Not like the see through stuff from the box.
When I make stocks I usually tend to clean out my fridge. In addition to an entire chicken I load my broth base with lots of veggies. Since you are going to drain the stock you can get away with being less meticulous with your veggies. You can leave the skin on your onions and heads of garlic. I use the inside parts of the celery that I would typically throw away. Carrots don’t need to be peeled or even have the tops cut off. When I have herbs in the fridge on the verge of going bad, those go in as well. When I cook with leeks I only use the light green and white parts, the dark green pieces get cleaned and thrown in my stock too instead of wasted.
The one key when making broth is time. If you want a more intense flavor it takes more time. I usually put my whole chicken in a large stock pot (an 8-10 quart pot is great, I often times I wished mine was bigger though so I could make more) with all my veggies and then fill the pot with water. I like to cook this for a good hour and a half. Then I take the chicken out and remove the meat from the bones. If you cook it too much the chicken meat will dry out. I set the meat to the side to use for my soup later. Then I take the bones from the chicken and throw them back into the soup pot, fill it back up with water and cook for another hour or two.
If you want to make a vegetable stock you can use the same process. I would use use double the amount of vegetables to really flavor the soup. A fine mesh sieve will drain all the stuff out of the broth once the stock is done cooking. All you are left with is the amazing flavored water that you then can do whatever with. Most of the time I use it the same night for a rich brothy soup. Like I said before, if my pot was larger I would probably wind up with leftovers!
Taking the extra time to make broth from scratch is worth it when you can. Not only does it taste good it’s a chance to use up things you would normally throw away!