I am trying a thing and want to see if cross-posting from Dreamwidth to Tumblr is working, so I figured I'd post something useful. I unearthed a gruesome-looking quantity of chicken and turkey bones in the freezer, and have turned it into two large batches of stock, which reminded me that I wrote down my chicken stock making directions for someone a while ago.
Advanced soup-making, or, How to make chicken soup stock (which is not hard at all but takes time): It is not as complicated as it looks! The basics are: take bones and veggies, add water, simmer for a long time, strain, and skim the fat off if you want.
The long version, with commentary:
Take chicken bones. (We usually put the bones in the freezer when we get a whole chicken, either from take-out or pre-cooked at the grocery store, or when we roast chicken or turkey. You can also use turkey necks, which are cheap in the meat section at the grocery store. There can still be meat on the bones, but there doesn't have to be.) If in doubt, the leftover bones from a pre-roasted grocery store chicken isn't a bad place to start. Put in your biggest pot and fill up with cold water. I'm assuming this is the kind of big pot that holds 5-6 L and can easily boil spaghetti. If it's a smaller pot and your spaghetti barely fits, cut the quantities in half.
Add four or five carrots, four or five pieces of celery, and a couple onions. Roughly chop into big chunks--it's all going to get tossed at the end, anyhow. Add a couple bay leaves, pepper or whole peppercorns, and salt, about a tablespoon of each, less if you're using ground pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a low simmer. Let it simmer for eight hours at least, checking every once and a while to make sure it hasn't boiled down too low. Add more water if it needs it. Taste occasionally after six or seven hours.
If it's not chicken-y enough, it might need more time, just need to reduce more, or need more salt. Eight hours is my default, but I have left it barely simmering on really low overnight, and it cooked for more than twenty-four hours and was awesome. You could use a slow cooker too for overnight.
I also have forgotten to check the water, left the burner up too high, and ended up with scorched veggies and chicken bones and nothing usable. Oops. I once accidentally dumped all the stock down the drain and kept the boiled bones, because my brain went into pasta-cooking mode on autopilot. Don't do that, either.
When it's done, strain the stock into a big bowl or pitcher, throw out the bones and veggies, and put it in the fridge for a few hours--or overnight. Then the fat will solidify on top and be easy to scoop off. You can skip this step if you want, and just use the stock right away. It may solidify a bit in the fridge because of the collagen in the bones--don't worry if it turns into a semi-solid wobbly jelly. It will liquify when you heat it up. Use within four or five days, or freeze. If you freeze it in portion-sized baggies, you can add noodles and leftover chicken and veggies for a quick bowl of soup, or use it for rice, or other cooking. Some people freeze stock in ice cube trays to use for cooking, too.
How to make vegetable stock:
Take three or four carrots, some celery (four or five stalks), and a couple onions. Chop into big chunks. Add a bay leaf or two, peppercorns, and salt. Other things to optionally add are mushrooms, leeks (if you use the whites for something, save the green ends for soup), parsley, or thyme. If it's going wilt-y in the fridge, it's still perfectly good for soup. I sometimes toss leftover and wilted bits of vegetables into the freezer for later. Don't add broccoli, kale, cauliflower, or anything cabbage-y, or that's all your soup will taste like. Same goes for peppers. Add cold water, bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about an hour or so. Strain, toss the veggies, and use the stock to make soup or rice or whatever else.
How to make shrimp stock:
When you have shrimp and de-tail them, use the tails to make stock, or freeze them until you have a bunch, which I usually define as the ziplock sandwich bag of shrimp tails is full. Put in cold water, add salt and spices of your choice (peppercorns, bay leaf, star anise, ginger, dried lime leaves, and.or lemongrass, depending on what sort of flavours you want), simmer for about an hour. If it's tasting a bit bland, boil for longer or add a slog of Vietnamese fish sauce.
Basic comfort food soup, once you have stock :
Chop up an onion, and three or four carrots and stalks of celery. Sear in some olive or vegetable oil. Add chicken stock and a couple chopped potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a bay leaf if you feel like it. Simmer for about forty-five minutes. Add some milk or cream, take out the bay leaf, and blend if you want smooth, creamy soup. Other good additions (that I wouldn't necessarily blend except for the cauliflower) for a more substantial soup include cauliflower, green or yellow beans, kale or spinach, and chicken, sausage, or whatever else soup-like is languishing in your fridge. You can also try only blending half of it, to save some of the pieces of veggie. Good with a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.
My basic principles of soup: substitute and estimate freely and often. Taste as you go. Soup is excellent for using things up, and is almost always just as good if not better the second day. Most soups are improved with a spoonful of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar stirred in at the very end.
To summarize: I like soup.