So you can buy stock pretty easily nowadays. Canned, boxed….it’s everywhere. But making your own is cheaper – and from the personal finance point of view, soup is one of the best ways to stretch a dollar, ever.

Also, this way you get to control what goes in.

We’ll assume chicken stock. This means you want BONE-IN CHEAP chicken. Dark meat is preferred, and lookit that. Bone-in mixed thighs and legs are something like 49c at my grocery store. Exactly what we’re looking for. 2 pounds. (If this is beef stock, find the cheapest beef you can, and if you can get bones from your butcher, the better. Pork? This is WHY they sell ham hocks!)

Now, while you’re at the grocery store, pick up some vegetables, namely: Carrots, Onions, Celery (enough of each to make a cup, chopped). The French call this a mirepoix(there the french go again), and it’s hugely popular in tons and TONS of food. Especially soup! Obviously, if you don’t like any of these things, leave them out. My husband promises, chicken noodle is just as tasty sans the onion.

Okay, so now head to the spices aisle and add anything you might not have (or have run out of): garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, basil (in order of optional-ness. Garlic is not, but *I* barely ever put the basil in.)

So, back to the home-place! If you’re a purist and you got fresh herbs, put them in a little piece of cheesecloth (2 fresh bay leaves, a BIG handful of parsley, a few springs of thyme, 2 leaves basil) and tie the whole thing with a string. Leave enough string to dangle off the side of your stock pot, for easy retrieval. If you’re like me, and just go with dried (easier to store that way), you’ll put in 1 tablespoon of parsley, 1 bay leaf, a tsp of thyme and a tsp of basil.

Rinse the chicken off, thoroughly salt and pepper it, and toss in the stock pot with 1 cup of the diced carrots, one cup diced onion, and one cup diced celery. Cover with 2-3 quarts of water, and toss in your herb packet and 4 whole, peeled cloves of garlic.

Cover and boil for 4 hours. If you need it to be an hour, it won’t taste as good, but it can be ready as soon as the chicken is done.

So four hours later, your whole house smells like joy and the neighbors are drooling at your window. Strain out everything, saving both the water (now transformed into chicken stock, woo!!!) and the…well, mess.

Stick your chicken stock in the fridge. When it’s cold, there will be a fatty goop at the top, discard this. Dance, because you have made your VERY OWN chicken stock, including all the things you like, and leaving out all the things you don’t.

Now, back to the mess. Rinse this with cold water until everything is cool enough to touch, but not cold. It’s easier to do this while everything is still warm. Pick out the chicken, pull it off the bones, tossing the bones and skin in the garbage. Spoon out as much mirepoix as is not covered in crud, and put all of this stuff back into the stock once you’ve gotten the fat off the top.

Whew! It really isn’t this work intensive! Promise! And this is the HOME STRETCH! Also, at this point, you can put the whole lot in those big freezer baggies, and stick it in the freezer for homemade soup, whenever you happen to need it.

However, we’ll assume that you want to make chicken noodle and eat the fruits of your labor NOW. Add as many noodles as you like from a bag of cheap egg noodle and put back in the pot and boil until noodles are done. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yeah, the last step is a bit anticlimactic. I know.

Enjoy your soup!