Get Healthy With Homemade Stock and Soup

Get Healthy With Homemade Stock and Soup

Happy New Year! Seems like just about everyone I know, myself included, has the post-holiday yuck. Unfortunately, our dear friend Claire Hoenke caught it, too. But the magical thing about Claire is that, rather than wallow in her sickness, she gets motivated to whip up a batch of rich, restorative stock and then make matzah ball soup. Considering my soup skills are on more of a ramen level, this is pretty dang impressive. Claire assures me that it’s actually pretty easy to pull off, and I’m inclined to believe her, so let’s all learn/recuperate together.

Well, it’s 2016, and I’m starting my year off not with a bang, but with a deep, throaty cough. While my coworkers are all resolved this year to really stick to their diets this time and “get healthy,” my only resolution this New Year’s is to actually get healthy and get over this cold as quickly as possible. In the face of a pounding headache and a rumbling chest cold, I wrap up in my warmest pajamas and slippers and head to the kitchen for the best medicine I know: a steaming bowl of soup. I skip the canned stuff in the pantry. Store-bought soup might feel nice enough on a sore throat, but I’m pretty sure real healing only comes from the homemade stuff.

Luckily, stock is actually pretty easy to make. It can be as simple as throwing a whole chicken in a pot of water and just letting it simmer, but I like to introduce a little more depth of flavor into the stock by first roasting the chicken. The nice thing about stock is that you can basically throw anything into the pot. For treating congestion, I recommend hot peppers and ginger, to open the sinuses.

I am going more classic with my get-healthy stock, though, and sticking with the basics. Carrots, garlic, celery, and onions make a nice, all-around stock that you can use to make any kind of soup.


  • 5 pounds frozen turkey or chicken wings, thawed
  • Chicken giblets
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns

Healthy Stock Soup

(Notice how the juice groove on Claire’s block catches the veggies before they roll off the sides? That dual functionality has never occurred to me!)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken well, and then add the veggies into the bag with the wings and giblets. Add the oil and salt and ground pepper, and then mix them all together to coat. Spread everything in a single layer over two rimmed baking sheets and roast, turning once, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are slightly browned and soft and stick to the pan a bit.

Stock Prep 6

Transfer everything from the pans into a large soup pot and add 16 cups of water. Pour about a cup of water into each of the baking pans and scrape up the browned bits. Empty the pans into the soup pot, add bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours, until the stock is deep brown and reduced by about 5 cups. Take a nap in the meantime; your body needs to conserve energy.

Healthy Stock Soup

When the stock has reduced, strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a sauce pan, if you’re using it right away, or storage containers, if you’re saving it for later. Throw away the solids. Let it cool completely before covering and storing. After your stock has cooled, the fat will form a layer on the top. This is pure culinary gold. Carefully skim it off and save it for later. As for storing the stock itself, I like to fill an ice cube tray and a gallon freezer bag for the freezer, and an air-tight jar for the fridge. You can keep the stock frozen for up to three months, but once it’s thawed, it goes quickly, so if you don’t have soup scheduled for the near future, freeze the whole batch.

Now you have your soup base, but what’s the next step? This rich stock will happily make any kind of soup you like, but for me, there is only one way to really treat a sore throat. If you were raised by or near Jews, chances are good you’ve had at least one bowl of matzah ball soup in your life. If so, you know the powerful restorative properties that the steaming golden broth and soft, fluffy balls possess. If not, trust that no amount of Nyquil or Tylenol can soothe the way this soup does. This is where that schmaltz (the rendered fat) comes in.

Matzah Ball Soup

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons schmaltz
  • 1/4 club soda or chicken broth
  • 1 cup matzah meal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

With a fork, beat the eggs well in a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Take another nap while your mixture chills. When you wake up and you’re ready to cook the balls, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Dip your hands into cold water to prevent the dough from sticking and form the mixture into balls. They can be anywhere from one to two inches in diameter, depending on your preference. Carefully drop each ball into the water and reduce to a simmer. Cook the balls for 30 to 45 minutes, until they start to drop a little below the water’s surface.

Heat your stock in a separate soup pot, and carefully transfer the cooked balls into the stock. You can add other things to this soup, like carrots or celery or chicken, but sometimes I prefer the simplicity of just a perfect matzah ball in some very good broth, maybe with some fresh dill or parsley to round it all out. This recipe makes about six servings, so it should last you through most of a week of your illness.

Healthy Stock Soup

From my home to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping you have paid sick leave and someone to make this soup for you while you lie in bed and re-watch the entire run of Gilmore Girls. Ess gezunterhait!

Printer-friendly recipes: Homemade Stock and Matzah Ball Soup

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