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Homemade chicken stock (Recipe: vegetable-beef soup)

Vegetable beef soup 

Knock wood, Ted and I have escaped the worst of the season.

No cough, no cold, no flu. No swine flu.

Doesn't mean we'll get through the holiday season without a few sniffles, though, so I'm stocking the freezer with homemade chicken stock.

What's the difference between stock and broth?

Stock is made from bones (carcass, neck, wings), long-simmered to release the flavorful gelatin into the liquid. 

Frozen homemade chicken stock

Broth is made from meat, which gives a less rich taste. You can bump up the flavor of store-bought broth by adding carrots, onions, leeks, celery, fennel, bay leaf or herbs (thyme, parsley, chives) from your garden. 

In our cooking, we're always looking for what's fresh, young, new. When making stock, you want the opposite: an old hen will give the best flavor. You want to extract every bit of that flavor into the liquid, so start with cold water, which draws out the juices from the chicken.

Here's my favorite way to make chicken stock: Start with a cold roast chicken; you can use a rotisserie chicken from the market, or roast your own. Remove the breast and thigh meat, and reserve for sandwiches or salad. Place the remaining carcass in a stock pot, and add one medium onion (skin on, cut in half), 1 large stalk of celery (cut in half to fit in the pot), and a few peppercorns. Cover with water by a few inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon, and raise heat to high. Boil the stock until it is reduced by half. Let the stock cool, and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays. Freeze for up to 6 months.

To make Chinese chicken stock, add a slice or two of fresh ginger root, and 1-2 scallions, cut into large pieces, in the final half hour of boiling.

Vegetable beef soup

Vegetable-beef soup

As the best soups are, this is a bit of a fridge dump, so if your fridge holds some treasures that need to be used up, toss them in. If you don't have cooked brisket, you can substitute flank steak, or leftover chicken, or the meat you pulled off the rotisserie chicken you used to make the stock. Or no meat at all. Save your parmesan cheese rinds; they are the secret ingredient in many of my favorite soups. This is a hearty main-course soup that serves 6-8.


2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 large zucchini, ends trimmed, diced
12 oz button or cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, cut in quarters
1 Tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 12-oz can V-8 juice or tomato juice
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups dried pasta (I use Dreamfields rotini)
1 parmesan rind
2-3 cups shredded cooked brisket
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Add the onion, zucchini and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and mushrooms have given off some of their liquid.

Add the thyme and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute. Then add remaining ingredients, and stir well to combine. Bring just to the boil over high heat; then, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the pasta is done. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve hot. (Can be made ahead and frozen.)

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Grandma's beef brisket in the slow cooker
Mexican tortilla and lime soup
Turkey-escarole soup
Lentil noodle soup
Black bean and peach soup

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'm with you, I always have homemade stock in the freezer, right now I have turkey, chicken, and pork stock. Why pork you ask? Because I just made 15 dozen tamales and the stock I didn't use in the masa or the red chili is now sitting in the freezer waiting to be used to make Spanish rice on Christmas eve. I keep canned chicken broth in my pantry for emergencies, but nothing beats the flavor of good homemade stock. I freeze mine in ice cube trays, that way when I need a little bit of stock I can just grab a cube or two.

I never knew the difference between stock and broth! I always use bones, so I guess I always make stock. Isn't stock made with bones even more nutritious?

Last year I made stock. I'm not that much of a foody that I can tell the difference also I really don't have the freezer space to store it and so this year I'm going back to the bought stuff.

I'm going to try this recipe later on this week. I love V8 in soup/stews....adds quite the taste kick.

Thanks for the recipe.

I usually use store bought broth in soups and stews and save the homemade stuff for sauces -- when the body really counts... But I'm too lazy to make enough stock to always have it on hand.

Great tip on the cheese rind.

I have to get a freezer with some room in it so I can make my own.

I have tended to shy away from making my own stock - but I think the idea of a rotisserie chicken is a great idea? I've also heard recently, that a crock pot is a great method to make homemade chicken stock overnight.

I now know the difference between stock and broth!

Lydia, I love your recipe - hearty without being overwhelming. I just struggled with the Barefoot Contessa stock recipe this weekend. Don't get me wrong, I get great results with her recipes, but this one called for three whole chickens and 7 quarts of water in addition to lots of veggies. The results are delicious, but I ended up using 3 pots (a chicken in every one :-), and straining it through a colander was. . . not easy.

Where do you find older chickens? They don't have them at my Whole Foods. About how much stock does this make?

Speaking of Whole Foods...they now SELL parmesan rinds at $6.99/pound!

Thanks, Lydia!

I have been making stock more and more lately, but I've never thought to reduce it after removing the bones. Thanks for the tip!

When my Daughter in Law comes to visit, I use nothing but homemade stock, as she is sensitive to MSG that bring on migraine headaches. She informed me that the boxed ones contain hidden amounts even when it says no added MSG.
It really is nice to have it made up. I need to make more. My soup today was made with boxed broth. I made chicken and vegetable with noodle soup with homemade pasta noodles. I got the big guy involved with cranking out the noodles after the pasta machine got quirky.

I love using rotisserie chicken to make homemade stock! Such a perfect way to get free food. When I was teaching I had a winter routine of buying a chicken at Costco nearly every Friday night. Need to get that habit going again now that it most definitely is winter!

AZ, so of course I have to ask why you were making that many tamales? I hope it was for a wingding of a party!

Pam, stock made with bones contains some of the gelatin from the bones, which definitely adds richness though I'm not sure it's more nutritious per se.

Milton, there is some great store-bought stock available. Just be sure to reduce the amount of added salt in the recipe.

Julia, that's a great suggestion. Like not using expensive wine in a stew that will cook for hours.

Val, you can make small amounts of stock from rotisserie chickens, and chill it in an ice cube tray.

TW, I've heard that about crockpot stock, but I haven't tried it yet. Thanks for the reminder.

Judy, where will you store that much stock? I love Barefoot Contessa recipes, but this is one case where a simpler method produces equally delicious results. The method I've included in this post will make approximately two quarts, depending on the size of the chicken you start with (how large the chicken, how large the pot, and how much water the chicken displaces) and how much you boil down the stock after removing the bones and vegetables. You can find older hens at a butcher shop. And buying parm rinds at Whole Foods? What next???

Janel, reducing the stock after removing the carcass will make all the difference. Try it!

Barb, it's good to know about hidden MSG, though I'm not sure how you'd be able to tell from the box (even hydrolyzed vegetable protein has to be listed in the ingredients). Your soup sounds delicious, and how lucky you are to have help cranking that pasta.

Kalyn, I'm relatively new to the rotisserie bandwagon, but I'm definitely on it now, and I love the stock made from the carcass, too.

I always make sure that I get a roast with a bone so the beef can do double duty of making both a stock and a broth. The beef broth I bolster up with the demi-glaze that I make every year at the beginning of the year.

Since I use everything rotisserie chicken has always been a canidate for stock.

It was so cold for the pass couple of weeks so I’ve just been enjoying myself in soup heaven.

I usually only keep in the freeze special versions of stock so now there is a sweet beef stock, a ginger chicken stock and a black chicken stock.

I always have chicken stock on hand, so versatile!
Congrats on staying healthy and hale in this troubling season! :)

now THAT is a simple stock recipe a girl can love!
Also what a great idea about the V-8!!!

hmmmm.... I bet I could use a small V-8 can in my meatloaf as I love a "tomatoey" meatloaf - the possibilities are endless.

I love homemade stock. Mine is basically cover bones with water (I normally buy whole chickens, break them down, and freeze the backs, necks, and wingtips until I have enough for stock), bring to a bare simmer and then keep it there or dump it into a 190 degree oven adding water occasionally. After about 8 hours I add in some bay, carrot, onion, celery, parsley, and other aromatics and let it go for a couple hours. Strain this mixture and shove in the fridge overnight. Then pour into leftover containers in 2 cup measurements for ease of use.

I'm going to have to make some homemade chicken stock one of these days.


Kim, I've never cooked black chicken. Is the flavor of the stock different than traditional chicken stock?

Natashya, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all of my readers stay healthy this winter, too!

Carol, I love to use V-8 in soups (I drink it and always have some in the fridge). The only thing to watch out for is the overall salt in the recipe. If you use V-8 that is not salt-free, be sure to reduce the added salt in your recipe.

Jeff, your recipe reminds me that I've wanted to try making chicken stock in the slow cooker. It's that same low-and-slow method. I like the idea of making it in the oven.

Paz, there's something so satisfying about making chicken stock. I hope you try it!

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