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I made Ina Garten's homemade chicken stock for the first time and realized sometimes store-bought really isn't fine

I made Ina Garten's homemade chicken stock for the first time and realized sometimes store-bought really isn't fine
  • I recently made Ina Garten's homemade chicken stock for the first time.

  • I used it in her ravioli en brodo and chicken pot pie soups and the broth blew me away.

  • Now I'll never be able to use store-bought stock again.

When I was at the beginning of my cooking journey, forced into the kitchen at the start of lockdown in 2020, no voice was more soothing than Ina Garten saying that "store-bought is fine."

With her foolproof and accessible recipes, the "Barefoot Contessa" star was the perfect idol for a novice chef. Garten never made me feel bad about using shortcuts as my skills slowly progressed, even endorsing store-bought mashed potatoes or frozen pie crust during the holidays.

But as a rainy winter descended on Los Angeles this year, I constantly gravitated toward soups. And after making a few with store-bought stock, I finally decided to try Garten's homemade version.

Now, I'll never go back.

Ina Garten swears by homemade chicken stock.

Ina Garten
Garten doesn't believe "store-bought is fine" when it comes to chicken stock.Jeff Neira/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

There are some store-bought ingredients — like puff pastry, mayonnaise, and ketchup — that Garten truly believes are "more than fine," as she told Today in 2019.

But when it comes to chicken stock, Garten believes the ready-made version is "meh."

"I really prefer homemade chicken stock, but if you absolutely have to, just make sure it doesn't have a lot of salt in it," she told the site.

I used store-bought stock to make Garten's winter minestrone soup and still enjoyed the recipe, but it wasn't the broth that stood out to me — it was all the delicious veggies. So, when I decided to make more of Garten's soups this season, I knew I needed to make the stock from scratch.

"I think of homemade chicken stock as liquid gold," Garten writes in "Go-to Dinners," her most recent cookbook. "Nothing available on the market has the depth of flavor or richness of stock you've made yourself. It contributes such great body and aroma to so many dishes. Plus, having a big pot of chicken stock simmering away on my stove just makes me feel good."

Garten's homemade chicken stock is packed with aromatics.

Ina Garten's homemade chicken stock
Making Garten's homemade chicken stock. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

To make Garten's homemade chicken stock, you'll need:

  • 3 (5-pound) roasting chickens

  • 3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered

  • 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved

  • 4 celery stalks with leaves cut into thirds

  • 4 parsnips, unpeeled and halved

  • 20 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 20 sprigs of fresh dill

  • 15 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half

  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons of whole black peppercorns (not ground)

Whenever I make one of Garten's recipes for the first time, I try to follow it to a T. But I should note that simmering the three roasting chickens for four hours will render them completely flavorless. If you're uncomfortable wasting all that meat — especially understandable in this economy! — you can always freeze the bones from your chicken and save it up for the stock, or take the chicken out once its cooked through and let the aromatics continue to flavor the broth.

But this will also provide you with a lot of stock — nearly nine quarts, to be exact. I've made two of Garten's soup recipes since whipping up her homemade chicken stock, and I still have three-and-a-half quarts left in my freezer. You'll get more than a few meals out of it.

You'll need about four hours to simmer Garten's homemade chicken stock.

Ina Garten's homemade chicken stock
Garten's homemade chicken stock truly looked like "liquid gold" after simmering four hours. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Making Garten's stock couldn't be simpler — you don't even have to peel anything. After I halved and quartered the veggies per her instructions, I just threw all my ingredients into a 20-quart stockpot. Then, I added seven quarts of water and brought my pot to a boil (covering the pot will help speed this up).

Once my stock was bubbling, I removed the lid, lowered the heat, and let it simmer uncovered for about four hours — making sure to skim off any foam from the top. After allowing the stock to cool, I strained everything through a colander and stored the stock in freezer-safe containers.

Garten's homemade chicken stock really shines in her ravioli en brodo soup.

Ina Garten's ravioli en brodo
Garten's ravioli en brodo soup is one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The first recipe I made with Garten's homemade chicken stock was her ravioli en brodo, which appears in "Go-To Dinners."

"Every country has its own chicken soup and this one is classic Italian," Garten writes in the description. "The key to its flavor is rich homemade chicken stock plus lots of vegetables, good ravioli, and a final sprinkling of Parmesan and fresh dill."

I've lost count of how many Barefoot Contessa recipes I've made over the last few years, but Garten's ravioli en brodo soup immediately shot to my top five — and it's all because of the homemade chicken stock. The lovely golden broth is so rich and comforting that you could drink it on its own. As my boyfriend said after his first sip, it's truly "exploding with flavor." This soup is somehow both simple and sophisticated, and I know I'll be making it for my friends and family for years to come.

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's ravioli en brodo soup here.

And it's perfect in her chicken pot pie soup.

Ina Garten's chicken pot pie soup
Garten's chicken pot pie soup is extremely comforting. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Garten's chicken pot pie soup, which appears in her 2020 cookbook "Modern Comfort Food," was inspired by a dish she saw on an airport restaurant menu.

"It was actually harder to make than it sounded — my first few attempts just tasted like chicken pot pie filling, not soup," she writes in the recipe description. "This one, though, hit all the right comforting notes, with good chicken stock, roasted chicken, and puff pastry croutons."

This is another contender for my all-time top Barefoot Contessa recipes. The silky and savory stock is the perfect vehicle for a recipe packed with hearty veggies, and Garten's buttery and flaky croutons — easily made with store-bought puff pastry — soak up so much of its delicious flavor.

Get the full recipe for Ina Garten's chicken pot pie soup here.

I already know I'll be making a big pot of Garten's homemade chicken stock every winter.

Ina Garten
Garten's homemade chicken stock is an essential kitchen ingredient. Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Soup has always been one of my favorite dishes — if you've read my past articles, you'll know I'm even in a group chat dedicated to sharing soup recipes and tips — so Garten's homemade chicken stock truly feels like a revelation.

It's extremely easy to make, infuses every dish with so much flavor, and you can store it in the freezer for up to six months. What's not to love?

Garten's homemade chicken stock is an investment I can guarantee will always pay off.

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