My dear friend S revealed to me in a recent phone conversation that she'd taken it upon herself to roast two chickens. She was very proud of herself, and I was proud of her, too. But, when I asked her what she did with the bones, she said they looked so gross to her that she just chucked them out.
I was shocked!
I told S that bones make great soup, but she said she hasn't the time to make homemade soup. When I told her she could do it in her crock pot (an appliance I know she has because I was at the bridal shower where she received it from our friend J), she was still skeptical that it would be worthwhile. After I continued to razz her about this total waste of a great resource, she said that if I did a blog post spelling out in easy steps how to make chicken soup in one day, she'd give it a try. So, here is that post.
Step One: Put bones in pot and cover with water. Same deal if you're using a slow cooker. Just put the bones in the crockery and cover with water. Turn the crock pot on to high at this point because it needs more time to heat up.
Step two: Add aromatics and flavourings. Aromatics typically mean carrots, celery, and onion. No need to spend a lot of time chopping; large chunks are OK. For additional flavour, I added half a bunch of cilantro (just chuck it in whole), a couple of teaspoons of whole peppercorns, several whole cloves of garlic, and some salt. Adjust the amount of salt to your own tastes. I have often added a lemon, quartered, to my chicken stock, as it makes for a really nice flavour.
Step Three: Simmer the crap out of all this. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer. You basically want to cook this until the veggies have nothing else to give the stock: you are transferring all of their flavour to the stock. The veggies should be beyond tender but not total mush. On the stovetop, this can take 3 -4 hours, depending on the size you cut your veggies and the size of your pot. If using a crock pot, just keep the temperature set to high all day, or about 6 - 8 hours.
Step Four: Strain the stock. Using a colander, pour the stock into either another pot or a bowl. If using a crock pot, strain the stock into a large soup pot. Pick the carcass and its detached parts (this inevitably happens during the simmering; it's annoying, but deal with it). Discard all the veggies and flavouring stuff. Pick the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and add the meat back to the stock.
Step Five: This is the point where I cool my stock and refrigerate it overnight so I can skim the fat off the next day, but this is supposed to be an all-in-one-day lesson, so now you want to add to the stock whatever you want to put in your soup. This time, chop the veggies small but evenly. I used carrots, onion, a can of baby corn chopped up, a large jar of my home-canned tomatoes, and more garlic. If you want to put potatoes in, now's the time. Bring the soup - for it is now soup, not merely a stock! - to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer. Simmer until the veggies are almost tender.
Step Six: Add pasta. Fresh is best - less starchy and it takes less time to cook. I like using fresh tortellini or even smaller ravioli. In the case of this soup, I used a porcini mushroom and ricotta tortelloni. It was fab. Cook until desired doneness.
Step Seven: Serve & eat. This is the best step of all, of course!
All right - how was that? Let me know if you have any questions or if I wasn't clear about something.
So, S, are you going to try it now?