Last week while picking my son up at school, I was stopped by a parent who asked me for my chicken noodle soup recipe. I had to stop and think for a second, because I actually don’t have a chicken noodle soup recipe. I later remembered that I had served chicken noodle soup to her son a few weeks back and he apparently loved it so much he’s still talking about it. Which as any parent of a tween knows, that is high praise indeed. I don’t think of it as a recipe, because making it involves pulling a container of stock out of my freezer, heating in in a pot and adding dried egg noodles from the pantry. Sort of the effort equivalent of cooking pasta and tossing with a jar of store-bought sauce.
Except that, the stock isn’t store bought. It represents an entire Saturday afternoon spent enjoying the aromas of a gently simmering pot. It’s old-fashioned, but the saying is true…”the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. After it’s been on the stove about an hour my husband comes down to remind me how awesome it is to be married to me. Another hour later my finicky 11-year old comes in to ask what that great smell is and what’s for dinner (even if it’s 10 AM). Another couple of hours and it’s time to cool the stock and store it in the freezer so it can make magic later.
Weeks later when I go to pull a container of stock out the freezer I smile because it’s almost like having time in a bottle. I remember that leisurely Saturday, and I know the contents of that container will turn a couple of simple ingredients into something amazing in just a few minutes time. Every time I cook a chicken or even buy a rotisserie chicken at the store I save the bones in a plastic bag in the freezer. After I have about 2 or 3 chickens worth I pull them out and make the stock. This stock, which is made from roasted bones has an even richer flavor than stock made from fresh uncooked chicken. This method also yields a stock that costs virtually nothing to produce. Compare that to the $4 or $5 dollars that it costs to buy good quality broth at the store!
So the secret ingredient to delicious chicken soup is … love and time.