This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicken Stock for a world in need of healing

Chicken Stock as it is starting to come up to boil
We had a roasted chicken tonight for dinner which means it is time to make stock.  Bar none I think making stock on a regular basis is the most important healthy transition you can make in moving to eating real food.  From this real stock you will have the foundation to make life-giving soups and stews.  But no wonder so few do it; our cookbooks and our world tell us that we always have to find the "easiest" way.  And of course it is easier to just buy canned stock or bouillon cubes.  But in the swoop of convenience we also lose the major nutrients of real stock.  I was looking at some of my cookbooks as I write this and was shocked to see that my copy of The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook published by Hearst Corp. in 1989 actually has this to say about stock:  "Cans and cubes have virtually done away with the need for regular stock making in today's kitchen, and it would be hard to go back to the days when a stock pot bubbled permanently on the stove." Thanks to Sally Fallon and her landmark book Nourishing Traditions, I know we have to go back to our stove tops if we want to reclaim healthy food for our families.

It is not as hard as Good Housekeeping makes it sound.  And shame on them for setting the bar so low; I thought they were supposed to be helping women improve hearth and home.  There are several tweaks you can add or subtract but I generally follow Sally Fallon's recipe for chicken stock.  I take the carcass from a roasted chicken and add cold filtered water to fill up the pot.  If you want you can also use a whole or cut up raw chicken instead and then you will have lots of meat for chicken soup later.  To the chicken I add 1 onion or onion scraps, 2 carrots or some carrot scraps, and three celery sticks all chopped in large chunks and throw them in the pot.  I also add two generous tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and when I have them I throw in several chicken feet as they add gelatin (lots of nutrients) to the stock and will help your stock jiggle at the end. You let the chicken stand in the cold water for 30 or so minutes and then bring to a boil.  Right before the boil, you have to watch closely to get the scum or foam that rises to the top and then let the full boil happen.  You can let this simmer for hours... and hours...somewhere between 6 and 18 hours or so, and then add a little fresh parsley at the very end just before you are done.  You strain the stock once it has cooled enough and you can separate the chicken from the bones and put the strained stock in the fridge once it is cool enough.  The next day you can remove the fat layer at the top; however you might want to save it for use in sauteing veggies for another time.  The clear broth will jiggle if you are lucky.  You can save some in the fridge for up to 5 days for drinking warm or making soup.  It is also good to freeze some so you will always have stock at the ready.

A few of you have asked about this broth recipe which is the same thing I made for my friend Michelle Mayer, who died in 2008 after a long battle with scleroderma.  During the last several months of her illness she called me the "soup lady" as I brought her this basic broth and also several soups made from this broth on a regular basis.  While the broth and soup was not enough to save her as much as I wish it could have, it did bring some comfort to some of her last, very difficult days.  From that experience I realized the power of whole healing foods for not just the body but the soul as well.  It was a great honor for me to make soup for my friend and I grew in spirituality just making it for her.  Michelle had a wonderful blog which I still sometimes look at when I miss her and I remembered that she wrote about this soup and what it meant to her in last months here.  You can still read on the web here:  (she also has a great post on roasting a chicken that you can find on her July 26 post).  I can't make this broth and not think of her fondly.  I want to pass along the ability to help us all learn how to make real stock to help heal ourselves and our world.  Michelle, as the stock brews tonight, know that it simmers in memory of you.  The aroma of love wafts in the air and it is like your spirit has swooped down from heaven to help me write these last words tonight.  God Bless you Michelle and peace to all. 


  1. I miss her, too, and I know how much she loved your soup. And that's quite a compliment from someone with the high standards she had. Thanks for posting! Amy M.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I remembered that you emailed our group with the instructions, but I don't think any of us could make it with such love. I know that when she could no longer swallow much of anything that your soup nourished her body and soul. I will try to make this soon. Where might one get chicken feet? lol

  3. Kristine,
    You get the chicken feet from the farmer directly in most cases. There are several vendors at the Carrboro farmer's market who have them. Sometimes they won't have them that day but if you ask they will bring some the following week for you. Can't remember all the places I have bought them but I know Coon Rock Farm at Estes Farmer's market and several vendors in Carrboro who sell chicken.