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Make it healthier: stock

Chicken stock

Homemade stock adds a depth of flavour and richness to dishes such as soups, stews and sauces that's hard to match in shop-bought varieties. It’s healthier, too, because shop-bought stock cubes tend to be higher in salt and may contain artificial ingredients. People with diabetes are more likely to be affected by high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Making a batch of your own stock is simpler than you might think and takes minutes to prepare. It cuts down on waste and saves you money.

You can use your leftover Sunday roast chicken carcass or any vegetables that need using up. Try this chicken stock or our vegetable stock. Make a batch, freeze it and keep yourself well stocked up.

Chicken stock

Once you’ve tasted the difference a homemade chicken stock makes to your sauces and soups you won’t want to go back to stock cubes. It’s lower in salt, uses up leftovers and is easy to make.

Makes 1.5 litres Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken carcass (leftover from a roast chicken dinner)
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled and cut in wedges
  • 1 stick celery, halved lengthways
  • 1 large carrot, quartered lengthways
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium potato, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of parsley or parsley stalks
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 litres water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a very gentle bubble. Add the lid and simmer gently for at least 1½ hours.
  2. Stir and break the chicken carcass up with a large spoon, leave the lid off and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  3. Strain, allow to cool then put in the fridge overnight. You should have approximately 1½ litres.
  4. Next day skim off the fat and the stock is ready to use. Alternatively, divide it up into portions and freeze.

Chef’s tips

  • Keep an eye on the stock and add more water if it starts to boil dry.
  • When you roast a chicken save the bones and freeze them, once you have 2–3 frozen chicken carcasses make a big batch of stock.
  • When you make a big batch, freeze in portions – plastic cups are ideal. Even if you make it using frozen chicken bones it’s still fine to freeze the finished stock.

Vegetable stock

Vegetable stock is easy to make and great for using up leftover vegetables.

Makes 1.5 litres Prep: 10 minutesCook: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, unpeeled and cut in wedges
  • 2 sticks celery, halved lengthways
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthways
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 broccoli stalk, split and cut into chunks
  • 8 mushrooms, sliced in halves
  • 1 courgette, quartered lengthways
  • 1 medium potato, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sprig of parsley or parsley stalks
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 litres water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a very gentle bubble. Add the lid and simmer gently for at least 1 hour.
  2. Stir and break up the vegetables with a large spoon, leave the lid off and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Strain, squeezing out any juices, allow to cool then put in the fridge overnight. You should have approximately 1½ litres.
  4. The stock is ready to use, or you can divide it into portions and freeze.

Chef’s tips

  • Keep an eye on your stock and add more water if it starts to boil dry.
  • For a really concentrated stock, once it is strained boil off more of the liquid so you’re left with ¾ litre of stock.
  • Keep a bag in the freezer and add vegetable trimmings such as cauliflower stalks, outer leaves of leeks or veg that is going soft and need using like carrots, celery or courgettes. When you have plenty make a batch of stock.
  • You can also flavour your stock with garlic, fresh ginger, Chinese five-spice or a little curry powder.
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