The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

Masthead header


Stock Before Cooking

Usually when I get sick, I heed the cues from my body and chill out, hard. If circumstances allow, I will spend as much of a day as possible doing nothing. Doing nothing is good for us, and it seems that the only opportunity some of us have to do this is when sick. I will catch up on entire seasons of comedy and listen to my favorite podcasts. (I think laughing helps us get better faster.) I have always interpreted a cold or flu as an opportunity to slow down and take care of myself.

Nourishing Chicken Stock

But sometimes we don’t have the luxury of pausing. I woke last Friday feeling off, but powered through my morning in hopes that ignoring it would make it go away. Last Friday was the start of Eat Retreat. A weekend that I have been looking forward to all year. No big deal at all.

By the evening I was out of sorts. A fever got the best of me and I tried to engage but focusing was a challenge. I went off to my cabin to sleep. Only, there was no sleep. I woke at one in the morning with a ridiculously quickened pulse and the sensation that nuclear waves of heat were radiating from my brain outwards. It was awful. And there was nothing there to distract me from my irrational, feverish misery.


At four in the morning, out of water and woozy and still sleepless, I got up to refill my glass. The walk to a water tap was far, and it was dark, and there were the sounds of things in the night, coyotes howling and twigs breaking and a wall of cricket chorus. I was too scared to get water. So I just sat down. I sat on the steps of the cabin and listened to the night. I listened to far-off owl calls, cautious footfalls in the dry forest duff, a wind that picked up and died, and the ceaseless and soothing cacophony of insects. Sitting there in the amazingly vibrant night time did something: it didn’t break my fever but it broke my misery. I felt better. Calmed. Okay.

Cabin steps, Hidden Villa, Eat Retreat.

Getting sick without our creature comforts can be so unsettling. There was a whiny five year old inside me who just wanted internet, hot tea, a tall glass of water, and some dumb television to distract me. It was a long night. But after that pause outside in the night air, it was tolerable. I crawled back into bed, listened to this album on repeat, and finally, somewhere around five or six in the morning, fell asleep.

And I have been wanting to comfort myself with this chicken stock ever since.


3 pounds chicken legs, wings, bones
4 carrots or equivalent, sliced in half
4 celery stalks, sliced in half
1 onion, halved
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 hunk Parmesan rind (optional but highly recommended)
sea salt to taste

In a large stock pot, add all ingredients along with 4 quarts of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another two hours. You can reserve and use the chicken for soup.

Strain stock, spoon off excess fat, and add salt to taste.

I highly recommend going the next step and making a hearty soup with it. Any of these, for instance: Chicken Ginger Soup with Noodles, Hearty Vegetable Soup or simple Chicken Soup.


  • Shanna - Oh, do I relate to this! I woke up in the middle of the night Monday with a horrible sore throat, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a pretty small pain to have, but I felt like I was swallowing razor blades and kept waking up choking on phlegm. Yuck. Yesterday, I did have the luxury of making homemade broth and slowing down, and today I’m feeling so much better, but oh gosh, if I had to be sick somewhere else? I’m SURE the whiny five-year-old would come out in me, too. Hope you’re feeling better soon. Wish I could bring you broth!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - Oh dear, I hope you’re on the mend now. Being sick away from home is a terrible feeling. I believe in the power of chicken stock too, and chicken noodle soup is my go to when I’m under the weather.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - There is nothing worse than getting sick when you are far away from everything and everyone you love. It’s such a horrible and isolating experience. I’m totally with you on the laughter as the best medicine thing too; I took a day off work the other day and spent it watching movies and ridiculous youtube videos and I’m sure that time helped me get better far quicker.

    I hope you’re feeling better now and, if not, this chicken stock works its magic.ReplyCancel

  • thecitygourmand - Chicken soup for the soul – it can’t be beat!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - I’m so sorry to hear this. That does not sound fun at all. I hope you were able to recover and enjoy the retreat. I look forward to your post about it!ReplyCancel

  • Steve Proesel - I’ve always shied away from adding vegetables to the basic chicken stock, same with the parmigiano. I like to create a pure chicken broth and then if I want, add the veggie or parmigiano, a great flavor enhancer, after I’ve got a great broth. I’m sure either way helps you overcome your symptoms.ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - I am going to the store right now to get stock ingredients. In truth, I should have them all the time, right? Well, this was exactly what I needed. Not feeling well today and your beautiful, bright stock is just the thing to nip this in the bud. Thank you so very much!ReplyCancel

  • Norma Stafford - We keep a bag in the freezer into which we throw all of our veggie trimmings: carrot tops, onion pieces, left over parsley, the rest of the broccoli that didn’t get used, etc., etc. When we have a couple of bags filled, we use them to make a veggie stock or add to a chicken stock. Obviously, each time may be a little different taste because we might have different veggies, but they’ve all been very tasty!! (Glad you’re feeling better!)ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - @Steve Proesel: Agree that perhaps Parmesan isn’t always the right choice, but it was here. Beyond that, I think stock is really a matter of personal preference.
    @Norma: I meant to mention that! I also keep a little tub in the freezer of leftovers and trimmings. It’s a great way to have everything already on hand!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - I was wondering if this story would end with you sneaking off into the camp’s kitchen to make chicken stock in the middle of the night, but a moment of clarity under a dark, starry sky, surrounded by the sounds of the woods at night is a mighty fine ending as well. :) I hope you were still able to enjoy the retreat and are back to health now!!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - It seems that our bodies always know what is right for us. I, too take any hint of sickness as a chance to slow down and rest. This yummy homemade chicken stock looks like just the thing for the next time I have the sniffles.ReplyCancel

  • Ken - Your photography is really really amazing Kimberly! Love it! Can’t wait to try the recipe. Parmesan rind in stock. Who knew?!ReplyCancel

  • erin @ yummy supper - Oh no! And your retreat sounded like it was going to be so fun. There’s nothing worse than being sick and away from the comforts of home. I hope you are feeling better. I can only imagine that this luscious stock really helped:)

  • Katherine Sacks - I’ve been eating rich, luscious foods non-stop for the past week, and I’m kind of comatose. This broth looks like just the thing to get me on the path back to feeling right again! I hope you are feeling better, and it sounded like you were able to enjoy a few moments of the retreat anyway. Can’t wait to hear more!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Kimberley I hope you are feeling much better after a little pause to take care of yourself. Can’t wait to hear about the retreat … the woods at night can be scary, I see that – but so glad you found your way to calm. Rest up sweet lady.ReplyCancel

  • Darrin Nordahl - My brother swears by “Root Stew” when he has the flu or cold. Not sure it works to kill the virus, but it sure makes you feel better (which in itself can boost your antibodies). Carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, shallots, and, of course, a hearty chicken stock, such as what you show here. Mmmmm, mmmm!ReplyCancel

  • sarah - Thanks for this post. Sorry you were sick! but I so appreciated your thoughts and reminder here. I tend to move towards distraction when I feel overwhelmed or out-of-sorts, instead of finding quiet or nature; taking time to just be. I hope you are feeling better!ReplyCancel

  • Model Chef - This is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing! I’ll need to make this for my husband who is sick right now.ReplyCancel

  • Daniela Grimburg - Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’m @ home with a terrible flu and can’t wait to try the chicken soup.ReplyCancel

  • Simon - Need a little help in the restaurant industry? Try going to to take the weight of staffing and job searching off your shoulders.ReplyCancel

  • EAT RETREAT 2012 » The Year In Food - […] Retreat was a different experience for me this year. Since I was totally knocked out by a fever, it was a challenge to be fully present and engaged, and I didn’t get the warm fuzzies that I […]ReplyCancel

  • Stuart - I love cooking up a big batch of stock. When it’s done I like to pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it so I’ve always got some to hand.

    Love your blog. Full of great ideas and inspirations. Thanks.ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *