All The Comforts of Home, Pt. 1

I’m feeling down, guys.

It may be a little early in this venture to start spilling heartaches, but everyone knows you can’t have it your way always. Lord knows, we never choose the time or the place.

The knee injury is part of what made me start this; not being able to move around normally, walk the dog, get into the shower on my own…

I’m so frustrated, and I cry when I’m frustrated (because we all know that punching walls only makes a bigger mess of things), and the only thing that can fix crying without medication is food. This week, I had waffles and bacon for dinner. I dropped some butter on myself and seriously considered wiping it up with a waffle. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was a low day. I stopped myself, though, and as I sit here looking at the grease spot on my favorite blue summer dress, I can’t help but think of all the summers I had that weren’t ruined by a single misstep. A bike accident or 6, I’ll grant you, but nothing like this. Let’s face it; if someone’s going to get hurt unexpectedly, you can bet your sweet ass it’s going to be me.

Needless to say, I started to think of comforting things: fuzzy blankets, warm puppies, movie marathons, and chicken soup. I’m not sure where the idea of comfort stemmed from when it comes to meat broth, other than the fact that it’s warm and nourishing and, when seasoned properly, can zap a stuffy nose from a cold in a heartbeat.  I’m not sure how you deal with either a cold or sadness, but I definitely eat my feelings and cry in both instances. And hey, if those feelings contain vegetables and protein, I’d wager that’s a check in the pro column.

So I’ve decided to give you a few installments of start-to-finish chicken soup. We’ll start with a lovely, easy (for cheaters, even!) chicken broth. We’ll cook it down until we have this fantastic demi that you can use in place of store-bought bouillon cubes, and then we’ll use THAT to make some awesome-possum chicken soup. Yeah. That’s happening. Are you ready? It’s going to take a while. Away we go…

I like to use my crock pot, so for the first installment, we’ll use that to get our base done.  I’ve done some night-before prep, because I certainly don’t want to get up even 15 minutes earlier than usual to chop veg. So, whilst simultaneously cooking tacos, I have chopped my mirepoix.

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Yep, those are the leafy bits of the celery. And it’s not very nicely chopped, but that’s okay. You’re just gonna let everything blend together and strain it later anyway. It’s not supposed to be pretty yet.

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Next, you’re going to fill your crockpot with soupy goodness. I pulled most of the meat off that rotisserie chicken and put it back in the fridge to use for our soup. The bones have gone into the crockpot with a frozen chicken carcass I saved from before. Since there’s a big chunk of ice in the middle, I’m going to boil some water in my kettle and pour that in, but really, since we’re leaving it to cook all day, it’ll thaw, so don’t worry about it! Give ‘er a healthy helping of salt and pepper, cover all your ingredients with water, add crock pot lid and walk away. I’ve set mine to medium heat for 12 hours. Time for work…

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Oh man, my house smells SO GOOD. Okay, so after a full 12 hours in the crockpot, and an extra half hour on the warm setting, taste test. I burned my tongue. I couldn’t wait.

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It’s a little bland at this point, so I salted and peppered again, and then transferred it to a big ol’ pot. I apologize for how horrible that photo is.

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Still a little on the bland side, so some more salt and pepper, and then a good sized sprig of thyme. Just throw it in there. Yes, it looks like sticks. No, you’re not going to eat sticks. It’s only 8:00 now, so I’ll give it a couple of hours on the stove before I go to bed.

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Bring it up to a happy little boil – not enough to coat your walls in chicken but enough to turn everything over and let the flavors marry. Keep an eye on and give it a taste every once in a while to make sure the seasonings are working. Bedtime: throw that pot in the fridge overnight.

10:00AM Saturday – back on the stove for a couple of hours. Starting to taste delicious! Pour through a strainer and into a smaller pot. Keep reducing…

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The best part of this for me is that you can just walk away from it. It’s blustery and chilly out, and the stove is warm and full of good smells. It’s almost done…

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I’ve turned the heat off now but am going to leave it there to cool. it’ll thicken some, and then you can pour it into a jar something to store it.

Phew! We’re done! Go you!

This stock can be stored in the freezer for quite a while – you’ll know when it’s not good anymore. Same goes for the fridge, but it’ll go faster.

Use to taste – as much or as little as you like. Use it to flavor anything that calls for chicken stock. Add water as needed, and again, to taste.

Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

  • one rotisserie chicken
  • 5 small carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • water
  • thyme (optional)
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