Basic chicken stock

Basic chicken stock

It looks as though Autumn is here again. I turned my back briefly by going back to the UK and when I returned to Berlin the balmy days of late summer had given way to a certain nip in the air. As is standard when the seasons change I have managed to get a cold and feel, quite frankly, like ass. So there’s only one thing for it, some nourishing soup to perk me up.

The basis for most soups is some kind of stock, be it chicken, fish, veggie or beef, which means that the better the stock, the more flavourful the soup. And let’s be honest, we’re not just talking soups here, so many recipes call for stock (risottos, stews, sauces, braised veg, polenta etc.) that its worthwhile knowing how to make some, even if it’s to keep in the freezer in an ice cube tray to drop in some flavour when the time is right.

But what happens if you want to make some chicken stock, but just don’t cook meat that often? Or if when you do you’re unlikely cook a full bird? The freezer is your friend here. Every time I cook chicken thighs or drumsticks I take the bones and add them to the growing quantity in an old ice cream tub at the back of my freezer. When the box is full I make stock. This is super thrifty and means that you’re squeezing every bit of joy out of the chicken that you eat, which is better all round really. The only time I would make chicken stock from a full bird would be to make (a special) chicken soup, where I want the flavour to be as intensely chicken-y as possible. For this I would buy a ‘Suppenhuhn’, which is essentially a chicken that used to lay eggs. It needs cooking for a long time to be tender enough to eat, but they taste great. These are much easier to find in Germany than in the UK, which is a shame as they’re a more environmentally friendly and economical alternative to a younger chicken bred for meat.

Stepping down briefly from my soapbox, making stock also helps to use up any veg odds and ends you might have lurking in the back of the fridge. Limp carrot? Whack it in. Celery seen better days? Throw in a stalk or 2. Stay away from brassicas like cabbage or broccoli as they can make the stock sulphurous when cooked for that long, but don’t be afraid to experiment. The same goes for spices and herbs. This here will make a basic chicken stock with bay, thyme, coriander seed and peppercorns amongst others, but if you know that the stock is destined to be an asian broth or ramen dish you could add some star anise and chilli at this point too.

So without further ado, here is the recipe.

Chicken stock

Makes 500ml

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours


  • 1.5kg chicken/poultry bones
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 2l water (or enough to cover your bones, depending on the size of your pan)
  • Any additional kitchen scraps


  1. Halve your onions, smash your garlic, chunk up any additional veg you have lying around (celery, carrots etc.) and shove all bones and aromatics in a large stockpot.
  2. Cover with water and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat.
  3. With the lid on turn the stock down and simmer for around 1hr 30.
  4. Take the lid off for the remaining half an hour to allow the flavour to intensify.
  5. Strain the liquid and leave to cool before storing for whatever delicious thing you have in mind next.
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