Homemade Chicken Stock

by | Oct 14, 2010 | 13 comments

Homemade chicken soup with fresh pico de gallo and avocado

Okay gang. It’s fall and if your region of the country is cooperating there should be burnt colored leaves sailing to the ground on the wings of a chilly breeze. You should have had your first pumpkin spice latte. A bite of something orange. Hopefully you’ve pulled out recipes with award-winning appearances from some of autumn’s all-stars like nutmeg and cinnamon. And if you’re anything like me, despite the unseasonably warm weather, you’ve started making soup. In my opinion, at the pinnacle of pumpkin patches, hayrides, and brisk morning walks perches soup in all its glory.

Now there are a zillion soup recipes out there: Butternut squash, bean and kale, tortilla, chicken noodle, vegetable, split pea, tomato basil, and so on. But if you really want to do any of these soups right, you’ve got to start with a good stock. If soup were an outfit, the stock would not be the belt, boots or dazzling hat – it would be the jeans. The very foundation for the whole shebang. Without great stock, you can’t have great soup. It’s that simple. And the great part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune on it. In fact, when you make your own chicken stock you should save money in the long run while getting a much healthier and flavorful product. Not to mention, your house will smell storybook charming.

Here’s how I’ve been making mine: First, if you’ve got a farmer’s market or local meat seller anywhere near you, ask your farmer for the parts of a chicken that are good for making stock. I know there are more appetizing things than asking for chicken parts, but this is where you save your money while still getting everything you need: necks, backs, legs, feet (I’ve never used feet myself, but I hear there’s a lot of gelatin in the feet). You can also use a whole chicken if you want, just make sure you take the meat off the chicken right after it’s cooked so you don’t dry your meat out. Then you can throw your carcass back in the stock pot. (I prefer to use local, free-range chickens that have fed off the land, rather than processed ones because I think you get much healthier meat.)

Directions: Pour 4-5 quarts of water into a good-sized stock pot. I use filtered water since so much of your soup is made up of water. Throw your chicken parts into the water. The last few times I’ve thrown in two backs that my farmer sold me at the farmer’s market for about a dollar a piece. Then toss in carrots, celery, and a large yellow onion (mirepoix). You can coarsely chop these vegetables – no need to spend much time here as you’re only using the vegetables for flavor. I also love to use fresh cloves of garlic and parsley. Once everything is thrown into your stockpot, bring everything to a boil and let vigorously boil until the meat is falling off the bone. (If you’re using a whole chicken and want to save your meat, make sure you take the chicken out when the meat is cooked, carve your meat off, and then return what’s left to the stockpot). If you’re using chicken parts you probably won’t want to use the meat so don’t worry about taking the chicken out and saving the meat – the whole thing can stay in the whole time.

I then add approx two tablespoons of fresh sea salt, but regular salt will work great; one teaspoon cumin; one teaspoon coriander; at least a teaspoon of pepper; a sprinkle of garlic powder. The first few minutes of the rapid boil is when you’ll see a lot of “scum” rise to the top. I keep a spoon and small bowl on hand so I can scrape the scum off and put it in the bowl to later be tossed outside. After the meat starts falling off the bone (1-2 hours), I reduce my stock to a simmer and let it continue anywhere from 2-6 hours. I don’t put a lid on my stock so it can thicken and reduce to a greater intensity. If you’re looking for a lighter colored, less intense stock, keep the lid on. I do occasionally add water if I think I’ve got lots of time to let the stock simmer, stretching all my ingredients a bit more.

When you’re ready to remove your stock from the stove, turn your oven off and let the stock cool. There are other more sophisticated ways to do this, but I get a large colander and simply pour everything from my stock pot through the colander and into a bowl so I’m left with nothing but liquid stock (vegetables, meat and bones should be left in strainer). I then transfer my stock to the refrigerator and let sit for several hours until the stock has congealed (It should be very jelly-like). You’ll see a white layer on top which is the fat. Simply scrape that off and discard. Everything else is pure stock and can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for much longer.

You will love the way homemade stock makes your soups taste, you’ll love having it on hand in your fridge/freezer, and you’ll love the health benefits, as the gelatin from chicken bones is high in protein and full of nutrients you won’t get in a box or can. If you’ve got other ways of making homemade stock, or some good tips, leave a comment. I’m sure everyone will benefit!








The stock that makes the best soup ever!










  1. Marty Anderson

    Would it be possible to make your recipes in a printer friendly format?

    • kelmint

      We just found a plug-in that allows you to print the recipes easily so I hope you find it helpful. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Sacha

    Hey Kelly, I have done your Bible studies with Beth Moore on her blog and I have loved them! I have also begun (began…???) buying free range chickens and pasture fed beef! What a difference! I am glad to see your recipe for chicken stock and can't wait to try it! Thanks for the recipe!

    • kelmint

      Yea. Love it! This is the way I see it… better tasting, how God designed it, more nutritional – and, yes, a bit more expensive but worth the investment.

  3. Jan

    Hi Kelly! I am a Beth Moore "siesta" and I led a small group study with your book on Ruth last summer. My group greatly enjoyed the study, and yes, we ate dinner together every week–a great icebreaker activity, we found.

    I don't make stock very often, but when I do, I use Adelle Davis' suggestions. She was a famous nutritionist of the '50s-60s, who believed in whole-food healthy eating. I have her book Let's Cook It Right, which suggests adding 1/4 C vinegar (per 2 qts. of water) when the salt is added; the vinegar dissolves the calcium out of any bones, making for a nutitrionally-richer soup. The vinegar taste and smell disappear as the stock boils.


    • kelmint

      Will have to try this!!!!! Thanks for the tip.

  4. Alejendro

    That sounds tasty and refreshing, but I'm a Vegan 🙁 Maybe I could make it for someone special. 🙂

  5. kelmint

    Alejendro – I think you do the same thing without the chicken. Just throw in tons of vegetables and stalks and spices and boil/simmer for several hours and I think you'll have something really great.

  6. alli rogers

    Okay, you have to tell me who you buy your chicken from! I haven't done this myself because it always seem expensive, but I hadn't thought about buying parts instead of whole chickens. tell me your secrets.. 🙂

    • kelmint

      Alli! Hit Garrett's Farm – he's in the main section about halfway down on the right (if "scratch" is on your left). His name is Ray and he's great. He'll give you chicken backs (or other parts) for really cheap. Also, his whole chickens aren't bad. $2.99 a pound I think. You'll really like him – he's a great guy. Very "salt of the earth" and loves NASCAR 🙂 Miss you!

  7. lisa

    I am loving the Ruth series! Enjoying it with a friend of mine and love the idea of eating together in our homes instead of trying to talk in a restaurant! I want to try the chicken stock but also wanted to see if you had posted the chicken soup recipe with fresh pico de gallo and avocado somewhere? I didn't see it in either study. Love the music from Ruth too!

  8. Alejendro

    Oh.. Kelly, guess I'll have to try that 🙂 Thanks

  9. Jarrett Laite

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.