The blustery weather has me craving soups and thinking about making chicken and beef stock. People tend to get emotional about making stock, buying three whole chickens to toss into the stock pot, but this seems like a big waste to me. Home cooks from around the world originally made stock as a way of using up all parts of the animal.
Unfortunately people don't seem to have many bones lying around their kitchens these days. For convenience's sake, as well as avoiding the reminder that you're eating what was once a living animal, many prefer to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts and other tasteless cuts of meat. Its a shame because whole chickens, lamb shanks, and beef short ribs tend to be more flavorful and more inexpensive, making it affordable to purchase locally-raised meat.
Purchasing these cuts also has the added bonus of providing bones to make stock. I just throw the bones in the crockpot, and cover them with water and maybe some salt or some vegetables scraps. Adding a touch of vinegar, white wine, lemon juice or other acid helps to draw out the minerals in the bones for better absorption in he body. When its done, I freeze the stock in 1 cup or quart containers for use in soups and sauces later. This method doesn't create an award-winning stock, but its much better than store-bought versions that are often so strongly flavored that they dominate any dish in which they are added.
Besides simply tasting better, homemade stock is extremely nutritious. Canned broth and bouillon cubes can contain added coloring, "natural flavorings," MSG, and tons of added salt. Homemade stock also provides us with a wealth of easily absorbed minerals that promote digestion, liver function, and boost the immune system. Its true what they say about eating homemade chicken soup when you're sick!