Thursday, 29 March 2012

Jewish Penicillin (even though I'm not Jewish)

Little V is sick, again.  It has been a difficult season of colds, flu and now stomach bug.  The only thing that has gotten us though this winter is my homemade chicken soup, aka Jewish Penicillin.  I used to buy the broth in the tetra packs, the organic one that even though it was pricey, even on sale, it tasted like dishwater.  Then I started making my own and I never looked back.  Not only is there something so inexplicably comforting about the smell that permeates the house with it's homely almost folklorish medicinal aroma, home made chicken soup will wipe out the worst of viruses.  The trouble for most people is that they get overwhelmed by how complicated they think making their own stock is.  I am here to tell you that not only is it simple, it is also cheap and you know exactly what goes into it.  
Here's my not so secret recipe:

Jewish Penicillin (even if you are not Jewish)

3 chicken carcasses preferably organic

(you can use fresh or save your bones from your roast chickens)

3 carrots
3 stalks celery (with leaves)
2 small onions or one large one
3 cloves garlic
Parsley stems
Thyme stalks if you have them or a couple of teaspoons dried
1 Tbsp salt
small handful of pepper corns, whole
2-3 bay leaves
**if you are lucky enough to have lovage in your garden, put a stalk or two in as well.  If you don't have lovage in your garden, I highly recommend that you plant one. 

Put all ingredients into a good size stock pot, cover with water, cover the pot and let the magic happen.  To make a good proper stock, it is ideal to let it cook for at least 4 hours.  Now, I know what you are saying, who has that kind of time? You do. That's an evening of watching TV or a morning while you are cleaning house or a day when you are home in the garden, you get the idea.  Once it is on the stove you don't have to do anything.

After the stock has been cooking for 4 hours or so, drain through a colander into a large bowl.  This will separate out all of your chunks and leave the goodness that is your folklore medicine in the bowl. 

At this point, if you have the time, put your stock to the side to cool in the fridge if you can.  All the fat will rise to the top and harden, at which time you can skim it off.  If you don't have time to wait for that to happen, just do your best in skimming what you can get while hot from the top into another bowl.

If you are going to make a proper chicken noodle soup, pull off all the good bits of meat from the carcass, yes, there are lots, and lots of good bits of meat.  Put the amount of stock you need into a smaller pot and add the pieces of meat along with some fresh cut carrots and celery as well as noodles or rice if you like and little flat leaf parsley never hurt anyone either.  Cook for 15 minutes and there you go, good honest chicken noodle soup or Jewish Penicillin. 

Alternately, if you are just making stock, you can just discard all of your chicken and vegetable pieces and pour your stock into containers to freeze and save for later.  I do this regularly and use our good stock for soups and of course risottos.  

You will never want to buy stock again, I promise.  


  1. I can vouch for this lady. She makes the best chicken soup, ever. I may be slightly biased however... ;)

  2. You are an artist in the kitchen! Can't wait to sit at your table and be fed love! xoxo

  3. I can't wait to cook for you too! Maybe a lovely hot bowl of risotto with the home made chicken stock : )