Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chicken Stock & Chicken Tortellini Soup

I'm all for the convenience of packaged chicken broth, but I do enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with cooking from scratch – especially when the process naturally follows a meal I'm already making.

The next time you roast a chicken leave a little meat on the frame and make yourself some chicken stock. It's almost as easy as boiling water – seriously!

You can flavor the broth with whatever herbs and vegetables you have on hand. Experiment until you find a combination you like best. When you're done, you'll have enough chicken stock to make a fragrant Chicken & Tortellini soup (recipe below), plus more to pop into the freezer for later – about 10 cups in all.

P.S. What's the difference between broth and stock, you ask? Traditionally, stock is made from bones. The collagen in the bones breaks down into a gelatin that adds body and a thicker texture to the liquid. Broth is made from meat and seasonings. Since I use both meat and bones to make this soup base, I'm using the terms broth and stock interchangeably.

Mangia! Mangia!

Chicken Stock

1 frame from a 4 to 5 pound chicken
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in quarters
1 shallots, peeled and cut in half
3 peeled carrots
3 celery stalks
2 o 3 crushed or minced garlic cloves
1 lemon, halved
Fresh herbs sprigs, tied into a bouquet with kitchen twine: thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley or whatever you have on hand
Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken frame in a 6-quart pot. Add vegetables, herbs and salt and pepper. Fill pot with water to cover chicken frame. Cover pot with lid. Bring to a boil and maintain a rolling boil for about 30 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 4 hours or longer, keeping pot partially covered.

Let broth cool. Skim any fat from top. Remove chicken frame, vegetables and herbs from pot and discard. Place a colander on top of a large pot or bowl and pour stock through strainer. (You could also use cheesecloth in this step.)

You can use your broth right away or place broth into a covered pot or container and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim off any fat on the surface. Now you have a delicious base for soup.

Chicken & Tortellini Soup

9 ounces cheese tortellini
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 4 ounces spinach, Swiss chard or baby kale
Grated or shaved parmesan cheese for garnish

Cook tortellini according to package directions. While tortellini cooks, heat broth on stove top in medium to large pot. Add tortellini and chicken to hot stock and heat through. If using greens, stir them into soup just until wilted.

Ladle servings into bowls and top with parmesan.

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