Making broth is affordable - use leftover bones and vegetable scraps (or as I like to call it "Soup Trash"), you don't really need the meat. When you anticipate you'll be making broth soon, start a collection of onion and carrot peels, celery butts, and potato peels that you would otherwise toss (hence, Soup Trash!). If you make any kind of chicken dinner or pick up a rotisserie chicken somewhere, save the bones, carcass, what have you, for making stock. If you really want a thick stock, look for chicken feet at an Asian or Mexican market! Yes, this is gross but beneficial.
Let's Make Stock!
If you're using a whole chicken, cut it into pieces. If you're using bones from a previous meal, you'll want to (carefully) hack them into pieces to get to all the good marrow and cartilage.
Place in the crockpot, drizzle a couple tablespoons of red or white vinegar...
Top with Soup Trash and cover with cold water. If I had to give an amount I would say 10-12 cups. If you don't have veggie scraps, or don't have much, then use 1-2 onions, 2-3 carrots and 2-3 stalks of celery. (These are the aromatics that give that great flavor). Potato peels will add potassium. You don't need to season the stock with herbs or salt at this point, wait until you're actually making soup.
Set the crock pot to low and let it go for around 12 hours. After 1-2 hours, skim the foam off the top. If you're using a whole chicken, you'll want to remove the chicken meat after 2-3 hours before it turns to mush. Reserve the meat for later and put the bones back in the pot and resume cooking.
In a few hours your house will be smelling mmm mmm good! When the broth is done, strain out the big stuff and pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer. I only have a small strainer so I ladle it straight into quart jars, with a funnel to catch drips.
Cool and chill overnight so the fat can rise to the top and become solid to easily scoop and discard. A good stock should be jiggly when it's cold. Don't worry, it's not fat making it jiggle, that's the gelatin.
Be careful of freezing glass, my broth always expands and break the jars. You could transfer cool, de-fatted broth to gallon freezer bags and freeze flat so they stack nicely. But I usually use my stock within a week so I just refrigerate it.
Now that your stock is ready to use, you can season as you like. Check out my recipe for Coconut Ginger soup (all the way at the bottom of the post). Here is an easy chicken soup recipe:
Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock
1 quart chicken stock
2-3 Tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
2-3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced thin
1 diced potato (optional)
1-2 tsp turmeric (optional)
Fresh thyme (and/or sage and/or rosemary are nice too)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Reserved chicken meat, shredded
Heat butter in a large stock pot and sauté mirapoix (onion, carrot, celery) around 5 minutes. Salt & Pepper. *** Add everything else but the pasta and chicken and simmer on low til carrots are tender, around 20 minutes. Salt & Pepper to taste. Add chicken a few minutes before serving, you just want to warm it up but not overcook it.
You can either cook your pasta separately and add it at the end with the chicken, or cook it right in the soup -- I find this reduces the broth so use extra, and the starch from the pasta thickens the broth.
*** If you want a thick, creamy style broth, make a roux by whisking in 2-3 Tbsp flour to the sautéed veggies, cook for a few minutes, and keep whisking as you add the broth. Use equal parts butter and flour. More = thicker.
Serve with sourdough garlic toast or fresh bread. Enjoy!