Today, we are having our first snow of the winter–hard to believe when you live in the mountains of Western North Carolina and grew up with snowfalls from November through March. Sadly, it’s not enough to cover the ground at our house, but it is beautiful and brings with it the giddiness and treasures of a “snow day” (even if it is Saturday).
On the menu for Sunday night supper will be soup which means I’m starting the soup stock today. A dear friend passed along a good tip to me–if you cook your broth in a slow cooker over a longer period of time, you truly capture a marvelous flavor. I tried it for the first time a couple of months ago, and she’s right–it’s amazing! Here’s the recipe I created, but please feel free to try your own. My version is gluten free.
I will share that I am not one to stick to preparation guidelines. When I am in the kitchen, I cook like my Granny taught me–a handful of this, a pinch of that. I do try to create simple tricks though to help me remember my recipes, so I’ve called this broth “four in one” because I typically add 4 of everything. It does make a nice concentrated stock which can be be mixed with other liquids (like tomatoes/juice) without losing flavor.
“Four in One” Soup Stock
This recipe makes enough to fill my 12 cup slow cooker.
olive oil, 4 leeks or 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 4 celery stalks, 4 carrots, salt, pepper (if desired, add any dry or fresh herbs–I usually combine some dried or fresh oregano and thyme from the garden)
Chicken stock: 4 pieces of chicken with bone added to the above (for a full slow cooker’s worth of stock, I add two breasts and 2 legs)
Heat a pan to medium heat with an ample drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tbsp). After warming the oil, add the chopped leeks or onion and 4 cloves of garlic chopped or pressed. Heat until soft but not browned then add to slow cooker.
Chop celery and carrots in chunky pieces (like for a stew–no precision needed). Add to slow cooker. If making chicken stock, place chicken on top of veggies. Pour water to fill the slow cooker until about 1 inch from top. Add salt, pepper and any herbs to taste. Put lid on and set temperature to “low”
Every four hours or so during the day, I like to stir the stock, but it’s not necessary. The chicken will come off the bone and that’s ok. Check the flavor–if you’d like more of something, go ahead and add it. Really, it’s fine!
Continue cooking the stock on low for 24 hours. I’ve cooked as long as 36 hours, and my stock did well. When finished, you can do one of two things: strain the veggies (and chicken) out of the broth and be ready to use it OR you can put it in the refrigerator for a few hours, skim the congealed fats from the top then strain out the veggies (and chicken). Either way, the stock is delicious. Enjoy!