Stone Soup

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I thought of calling this “FREE SOUP” but I decided a plagiarized title might catch your eye. 🙂

Having grandparents who lived through the Great Depression can teach a girl a lot if she will only listen. Here’s something I’ve learned:

When you buy chicken, buy the whole chicken.
Roast it for dinner and save the carcass and the juices. If you’re not ready to make soup, freeze the carcass and juices. OK, they didn’t have many freezers during the Great Depression, but this blog is subtitled “Taking the best of the past for the present” so just go with me, here.

When you cut up vegetables, wash them well and save the bits, peels, and ends of carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions–even onion skins, herbs and whatever else suits your fancy. Freeze them, too.

Boil the chicken carcass with your saved vegetable peels and ends and salt for about an hour, then take it out and let it cool a bit, take all the remaining meat off the carcass and set it aside in the refrigerator. Put the bones back in the water and boil everything either in a crock pot or on low for 24-48 hours, adding water as necessary. Or, if you have a pressure cooker, you can use that instead for probably 30-45 minutes.

Pour everything out into a big bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Let it cool and then skim some or all of the fat off the top according to your taste. You can use that chicken fat to cook other things in if you like. You can give the carcass to the dog now, he won’t choke on it because the bones should be very soft. Toss the mushy, overcooked veggie peels and ends into the compost. Do not eat them. All their nutrition and flavor is now in your stock.

You now have the most fantastic broth you can imagine. It is full of gelatin. That is why it looks like chicken jello in the refrigerator. THIS is the kind of chicken stock that cures colds. Not that crappy chicken water you get in a carton or can from the grocery store.

Next, take the chicken that you’d set aside plus the prettier bits of vegetables you’ve saved and/or fresh ones. Add more salt to taste and some noodles (you can make noodles by just mixing flour with egg and a tiny bit of water, rolling it out and slicing it up) or rice and voila…almost free soup.

It’s delicious.

You’ve made a huge pot of the most nutritious soup for next to nothing, reduced your garbage output, increased the quality of your soil by composting, and given your dog a free meal.

Hooray!

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