Stock. One of the best food creations I can think of. The story kind of reminds me of the history of beer, one in which a gentleman stumbles upon something wonderful. Just imagine, one day, someone decided to throw some leftover bones, meat, and veggies into some boiling water and let it boil away.
Stock not only is a staple and a base for an entire society of cuisine, but is also very easy to produce, I'll show you how.
5 pounds chicken parts (including bones and gizzards)
5 quarts cold water (this varies, you only need enough water to cover)
2 tablespoons salt (if you use rotisserie chicken, reduce salt by half)
(8oz) 1 large onion, peeled and halved
(12oz) 4 medium carrots, peeled and halved
(12oz) 4 large celery ribs with leaves, halved
1 leek, whites only, cut lengthwise and cleaned
(3oz) 1 large or 2 small parnsips, peeled, trimmed and cut lengthwise
10 sprigs of fresh thyme with stems
10 sprigs of fresh parsley with stems
2 bay leaves
10-15 whole peppercorns
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
This recipe can be adjusted, just keep the ratio the same. If you don't have a pot big enough (like what happened to me), half this recipe (IE 2.5 pounds chicken parts etc etc).
Place all ingredients in pot and set an open steamer basket upside-down on top and add the water until the steamer basket is submerged. This method keeps the ingredients submerged at all times and also makes it much easier to skim when needed.
Cook on high heat until boil is reached. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Strain scum every 15 mins for the first hour. Continue to skim every 30 mins after. Keep a pot of boiling water or very hot water close by and add hot water as needed to keep the ingredients and steamer basket submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6-8 hours. Yes. It's easy, not fast.
Remove from heat let sit for 1 hour.
Strain into another pot and cool to room temperature. You can also do this by using an ice bath if desired. At this point, skim off as much of the fat as you can. Move pot to fridge to let cool overnight. In the morning, it may look a little strange. It may have turned into gelatin. That's what you want to see. That's a sign that the majority of the bone substance is now infused into the stock. That's all the flavor. Try to remove most of the solidified fat that is on top.
Place pot on the stove top and cook on the lowest setting you have until it is in liquid form again. From here, you can split up the stock into various containers for storage. I like to store my stock into 1 quart containers. That is basically about 2 servings per container, a nice dinner for 2. 3 months in the freezer, or 1 week in the fridge.
If you wish to make soup at this point, you can go about this 2 ways. You can re-add the chicken meat and vegetables from the original simmer, and add some noodles and cook until noodles are done.
If it's too much of a mess in there to get anything tangible, you can follow your favorite soup recipe, or just chop up some more carrots, celery, cubed potatoes, parsnips, and any other veggies you like. Add some chopped chicken and some noodles, and cook until the ingredients and noodles are cooked through.
This is well worth experimenting with and changing things around to your own taste. It doesn't matter to me, any homemade soup is always the best. Enjoy!