In the last few years, I don’t my family has used store-bought chicken broth more than a handful of times. It isn’t because we don’t use it, we go through gallons of the stuff during the winter and fall making soups and stews.
It’s because we finally realized that with just a pound or two of chicken and vegetables, water and spices, you can fill your freezer with soups and a stock that we call “liquid gold” every month.
The best part is that if you shop and eat right in the weeks leading up to making it, broths cost virtually nothing to make and can be altered in a variety of different ways.
Pro tip: for the chicken in this recipe, I save and freeze the bones and carcasses of rotisserie chickens or bones from chicken thighs I roast. I do this for two reasons. One, it ensures that I use nearly everything from the chicken, and two, with rotisserie chickens the bones are already roasted and seasoned, adding a little extra flavor to the broth or stock. Get a plastic ziplock freezer bag and just get in the habit of throwing all of your bones into it in the freezer. If you eat like I do you should have enough bones for a good stock or broth within a few weeks.
Homemade Chicken broth
Approximately 3 pounds of chicken - bones, skin, fat, gristle, it can all go in the pot
4 stalks of celery cut into 2-inch pieces
4 medium carrots cut into 2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped with the skin still on
6 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
Several healthy dashes of dried thyme
Kosher salt to taste
4 quarts of cold water - adjust this if you add more chicken or if you want a thicker broth
How to make it
Combine all your ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat until simmering.
Simmer partially covered on medium-low heat for about 2 to 3 hours.
Strain the broth through a colander into a bowl or large pot, pressing the mass of solids with a wooden spoon or masher to extract as much of the liquid as possible.
At this point, you can either let the broth cool and place it in storage containers to use or freeze, or you can return it to a pot on the stove to add additional seasonings.
Classic chicken noodle soup
Now you have plenty of fresh broth, it’s time to make your soup. As I said before, this recipe can be altered any number of ways to fit your diet or preferences. But for this recipe, we are going to be making a classic chicken noodle soup with celery, carrots, egg noodles and roasted chicken.
2 medium-sized roasted chicken breasts
2 medium-sized carrots - sliced in thin rounds
2 celery stalks - sliced into slightly thicker pieces than the carrots
1 large onion - thickly chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
How to make it
Roast Chicken - I normally start this recipe out by roasting my chicken breasts in a cast iron dutch oven using some of my fresh rosemary, olive oil and whatever other spices sound good. But if you don’t have a dutch oven, feel free to roast them in a pan or on a baking sheet. Chop roughly after they are roasted.
Cook the mirepoix (a fancy word for the vegetables that provide a base to your dish) - If you did use a dutch oven, remove your chicken and hopefully you’ll find a fantastic place to slowly sautee your onion, celery and carrots in a little olive oil. Once your onion, celery and carrots are softened, add in a little of your broth, and scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the good baked-on bits of chicken and spices. If you didn’t start with a dutch oven, just sautee the vegetables like normal.
Add in your chicken, broth and noodles - Toss the roasted chicken pieces and a healthy amount of uncooked egg noodles into the pot and stir, then add a generous amount of broth, fully covering the solid ingredients. Keep in mind that the egg noodles will expand as they cook, soaking up broth, so feel free to add additional broth as things cook if your soup is looking ingredient heavy.
Simmer and spice - Add a bay leaf and some fresh rosemary to the soup, and simmer until the egg noodles are cooked through. At this point, the soup is cooked, but you will need to season with salt and pepper to your own taste. I also like to add a little butter to the soup at the very end to give it a little creaminess, but this isn’t totally required.
Serve with some good bread, enjoy and refrigerate any leftovers!