Basic Chicken Stock

By Culinary Community Liason, Jennifer Justus

Ever wonder about the difference between stock and broth? As we’re still deep in soup season, we figured this would be a good time to take stock in our own stock.

The person on staff to consult? David Price, sous coordinator at The Nashville Food Project’s St. Luke’s Kitchen. He appreciates a good stock and helps explain how to do it here.


First, we talked about stock vs. broth:

Stock generally comes from simmering bones, pieces of meat or scraps, connective tissue and sometimes vegetables in water. Broth is made from vegetables and sometimes meat with no connective tissue or bones.

Well-made stock, in contrast to broth, will have body and should solidify into a gel. It results in a rich base that adds depth of flavor and silky texture to soups, greens, beans or for braising meats.


To begin the stock process, David breaks down a whole chicken (click here to watch a video on that process). Then he adds water and salt -- and sometimes some vegetables that he has on hand -- before bringing the liquid to simmer for about four hours.

“I come from an environment where good food was a luxury, and to be able to create that for yourself is really empowering,” he says. “And also the idea of waste-not-want-not has always been a key motivator for me in a lot of ways, especially with my work in the kitchen. What I really value at The Nashville Food Project is being able to convert things that would otherwise have been wasted. ”

David says he likes being able to make use of the less popular parts of the chicken – the necks, tails or organ meat, for example, and make several meals in a more economical and sustainable way.

“I guess it is philosophical in a way, because my philosophy is waste-not-want-not. My philosophy is to make that dollar work for me. And I’m able to do both those things by breaking down my own chickens and making my own stock.” 


 Basic Chicken Stock

Adapted loosely from The Food Lab.

Makes about 2 quarts



1 chicken, cut into pieces

4 quarts water

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetables on hand – a few smashed garlic cloves, an onion, a couple carrots or celery, roughly chopped

A couple of bay leaves



1. Cut chicken into pieces. Reserve the chicken breasts for another use. Place remaining parts, bones and any organs into a medium-to-large stockpot.

2. Cover the chicken pieces with water, about four quarts.

“It’s better to have too much water than not enough,” David says. “You don’t want to be making soup and need four quarts and only have three.”

If your stock seems too weak at the end of the process, you can always reduce it down by simmering it longer. “All the stuff that’s in that water will stay.”

3. Add salt – starting conservatively (about a tablespoon to begin). It’s easy to add more salt but mostly impossible to take it away. Sometimes David might use soy sauce instead of salt if he knows that the end result of his stock will benefit from that flavor.

4. Bring water and chicken to a boil but immediate reduce heat to simmer for about four hours, occasionally skimming off any foam or scum that rises to the surface.

5. About an hour into the process, use a pair of tongs to remove larger pieces of meat such as drumsticks and thighs. Remove cooked meat from the bones, reserving for another use, and place bones back into stock while it finishes simmering.

6. Take stock off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Strain stock with a fine-mesh strainer into a large container. Discard the solids.


7. Place the stock in the refrigerator where it will keep for five days (or freeze it to keep for three months). Use stock to make soups, braise meats or cook greens and beans or to begin sauces.

8. Enjoy!!