What’s Up, Stock?
By Fiona Breslin
Chicken stock earns a gold star when it comes to adding nourishment to soups and stews. Science has confirmed what mothers everywhere have told us forever — that a bowl of steaming chicken broth is good for body and soul.
According to an article in The New York Times, chicken stock can now boast scientifically confirmed medicinal merit to match its comforting taste. The article cited researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who found that chicken stock can help ward off neutrophils, white blood cells that can lead to respiratory infections during cold season. Chicken stock supports health during cancer treatment too. Homemade chicken stock offers a nutritious, easily digestible way to take in vitamins and minerals without taxing a compromised digestive system.
Good chicken stock is made from whole chicken or chicken bones simmered with a variety of veggies added for flavor and nutrients. Stock made with whole chicken is richer in taste and texture. Making chicken stock is an easy thing to do if you have the time, and we encourage everyone to try it at least once, because once you’ve had homemade stock you may never go back to store-bought. Even a kitchen novice will be pleasantly surprised to find how easy making your own stock can actually be. If you can, we recommend making stock in a pressure cooker, which cuts cooking time by half and almost eliminates the inevitable cooking smells that a long simmering stockpot emits.
Although stock can be easily made at home, it’s often more convenient to buy it canned, boxed, or in bouillon cubes. Always look for stock products that are MSG free, low in sodium or sodium free. If you can’t find low sodium stock in your market, then dilute with ½ its volume of water. Take special care when buying bouillon cubes. Bouillon cubes are often extremely high in salt and MSG. When using any commercial stock, always take care when adding salt to your dish, even with low sodium brands. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that many ‘reduced sodium’ stocks and broths are still too high in salt for them to widely recommend.
Chicken stock is one of the building blocks of cooking. It is used in an enormous variety of soups, stews and sauces. Begin by making Cook for your Life’s Rich Chicken Stock, then use the stock to make our wintertime favorite Chicken Soup With Dill, or to add extra flavor and nutrients to Greens and White Bean Soup If you have any stock left over, check out our instructional Bag N’ Freeze video to learn how to conveniently freeze stock in small batches for later use.
Most of our soups, stews, and risottos use chicken stock. If you buy stock from the grocery store and are gluten intolerant, make sure there is no gluten listed in the recipes. Many brands are gluten-free.