Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Soup Night and Chicken Stock

We have a fall tradition around here that has been going on for 9 years now. Every fall, we open our kitchen for Soup Night. It started nine years ago, a weekly gathering, as a way to stay connected to our friends and family. Not much has changed over the years except last year we went from weekly gatherings to monthly gatherings. People get busy and it seemed once a month was enough for everyone.

I always make two kinds of gluten-free soup, a vegan or vegetarian friendly soup and usually a meat or fish based soup. We invite anyone who wants to join us for an open house style evening, the first Tuesday of each month. Friends, friends of friends, family and strangers, all are welcome. Generally about 20 people show up to enjoy soup, bread and chocolate chip cookies. It is simple, nothing fancy, plastic spoons, paper plates and napkins.

I have collected soup recipes over the years, even putting together a self published collection of my soups to celebrate our fifth year, souvenirs for our followers. Of course I enjoy trying new recipes but it seems everyone has their favorites and I get the same requests over and over, Spinach Curry, Black Bean, Cheddar Corn Chowder are among the most popular. I cut some corners, usually using a base for broth but recently I have been hoarding chicken carcasses and vegetable peelings and cuttings from celery, onions, carrots and parsley. Today I had enough to make homemade stock. I can't actually say I appreciate the difference in quality, I am not sure my palate is discerning enough for that but I am thrifty and I do like using every morsel of food possible. So the idea of saving bones and bits and pieces of what would otherwise be wasted vegetables really appeals to me! I am so enamored by this that ideally I would like to save 6 months worth of waste, make stock and then can it. It is time consuming however, at least three quarters of day to put up stock.

I started with bones from three chickens that I had frozen and a large bag of large chopped pieces of carrots, celery, onions and parsley. No specific measurements here. I put all of this into a large roasting pan and roasted everything at 400 degrees for two hours. I transfered the roasted bones and vegetables to a large stock pot and added enough cold water to cover and heated the stock to just below a boil, about 190 -200 degrees and let is simmer for 6 hours. I did not stir, I did not add salt or pepper and I did not let it boil! I waited and I waited, watching the stock reduce and turn a rich rich golden color. After straining the stock it went into the fridge where it will sit overnight and in the morning I will skim the solidified fat off the stock and then freeze it. This is my third time making chicken stock and I am hoping for a very thick, gelatinous stock full of cartilage-building proteins! If all goes well, and I expect it will, I will have a wonderful stock for my famous Cheddar Corn Chowder which I am making for the season opener of soup night next Tuesday. Cheddar Corn Chowder is also Tina's favorite soup! It is a great early fall classic when sweet corn is at its peak!


Ina said...

That is exactly what I did the other day - ended up with about 17 cups of beautiful dark broth - now in the freezer. What an awesome strainer - I must look for one!

GF Gidget said...

What a wonderful tradition! My mouth is watering at the thought all of the wonderful soups you will make!