This is great comfort food for when the weather starts getting colder and you feel a bit out of sorts. 

My mother was a modern, 20th century cook, and brought us up on canned and packet soups and instant chicken stock. Powdered stock has its place – I usually have a jar of Rapunzel organic vege stock powder (German) – but a big pot of homemade chicken broth is a completely different experience. And it is full of excellent nutrients, unlike icecream (although there are times for that too).

You need:

A chicken carcass, fresh or frozen, raw or left over from a roast.

Note: Organic and free-range is preferable, for flavour, nutrition and chicken welfare. In Hamilton, you can buy Bostocks frozen organic chicken (from Hawke’s Bay) at Village Organics, 245 Commerce St, Frankton, and at La Cave, the specialist French deli in Riverlea Rd.  Waikato Foodbasket would love to hear about other local suppliers and retailers of organic and/or free-range chicken.

1 onion, peeled and quartered

2 carrots, peeled if they’re not organic, and cut into two or three pieces.

1 clove garlic – grown by Liz and Rick of Taunga Kereru near Raglan, they sell fantastic garlic at the Raglan Market.

1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped – I have some growing in the garden, from Weathersfield Organic seedlings at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. Celery always features in the “dirty dozen” veges most likely to be drenched in pesticide residues, if it isn’t organic or home-grown. 

1 large handful of parsley – grown by Jeanette, who sings with me in World Voices on Tuesday nights. (The parsley in my garden is growing far too slowly.)

1 handful of fresh thyme (don’t worry about pulling the leaves off the stalks). Thyme is easy to grow in a pot or in the ground. Get a root cutting from a friend.

1 leek, cleaned and roughly chopped

1 tsp black peppercorns – I’m pretty sure black pepper doesn’t grow in the Waikato, being a tropical plant native to south India. I buy fair trade peppercorns from Trade Aid, 19 Worley Place, Hamilton, near Garden Place.

1 Tbsp salt. My packet of Mrs Rogers salt says it’s sea salt from the top of the South Island.

2 bay leaves – foraged from a neighbour’s hedge along Hillcrest Rd.

A splash of cider vinegar (helps get maximum nutrients out of the bones). Here’s a link to my recipe for home-made cider vinegar, made from windfall apples.

Place everything in a large cooking pot and add water to cover. Since I live in Hamilton, my water comes out of the Waikato River… I’ll be writing about that in future posts.

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for at least two or three hours, the longer the better. If you have a large slow cooker, use that.

To serve, you can dress it up a bit with a dash of brandy, or a sprinkle of chopped parsley, or toasted cheese. But I like it just the way it is.

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