Hey there, Mason jar fans!
Maggie and Mary here! In this Mason jar inspired, mid-winter pick-me-up post, we’re talking about making comfort foods, homemade chicken and rice soup and Irish soda bread, as a form of self care.
As busy parents, I really do believe meal planning and cooking in big batches either for the current week or to eat and freeze really is a form of self care. This way, I’m not running around like a crazy person trying to get dinner on the table or resorting to drive thru which my body definitely doesn’t see as self care.
Spoiler Alert: Mason jars help me prep and store food to make my meal planning and big batch cooking even easier!
First – the soup! While cooking a big batch of soup from scratch may be time consuming and require several steps over more than one day, I made 6 dinners worth for my family of 4 and froze 5 individual servings (because NO ONE wants to make immune boosting, homemade soup when they’re already sick!).
Now I acknowledge that there are many ways of making stock and benefits to them. If you’d like to share your tips and tricks in the comments below, I’d love to read them! That being said, this is how I learned to do it and it also feels the most cost effective to me – so it’s what I do.
- Benefits of Homemade Stock
- How to Make Your Own Stock (The Mary Method!)
- Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe
- Irish Soda Bread Recipe
Benefits of Homemade Stock
So why bother making homemade stock?
- You know EVERYTHING that’s in it (no weird ingredients you can’t pronounce – huzzah!)
- Control your intake of sodium
- Grandmas around the world have boasted its healing properties and they’re not wrong! Homemade stock is packed with minerals and nutrients
- If you simmer your bones long enough, it’s loaded with gelatin too! Gelatin supports skin and hair health, digestion, cellulite, tightens loose skin and is awesome for joint pain and inflammation
- It’s arguably the cheapest nutrient dense food
- In this method, we’ll use ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste making it the eco-friendly and economical choice
- It’s way easier to do than you think (I promise)
- And finally, it tastes amazing
How to Make Your Own Stock
As I mentioned before, this is my method for making stock – so feel free to improvise! I always start with two, whole, organic chickens. I typically pick them up at Costco (they used to come in a two pack, but now they’re individually packed) for about $30. This is a deal in my books!
At our house, we like to eat the white meat on its own but not the dark. Our solution is to divide the white and dark meat into two different dinners where we enjoy both!
Step 1: Roast the chickens!
(Side Note: I also freeze any giblet packets that come with my birds immediately and save them for my stock).
You can look at the internet for a myriad of recipes and ideas for roasting the perfect chickens. I typically keep it pretty simple and just do herbs, stock, and butter to roast – something like THIS. I didn’t take a picture of my roasted chickens this time but you get the general idea.
Our white meat chicken meals always go like this: chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, and some sort of steamed veggie. When I cook the chickens, I focus more on getting a good amount of drippings to make lots of gravy so I tend to keep the birds covered while cooking (which makes less crispy skin but we don’t eat it anyway – I save it for stock).
I save ALL my potato water – some gets used for gravy, the rest saved for soup. My gravy is pretty simple by combining the drippings, potato water, and some form of starch similar to THIS recipe. Any gravy not eaten during these meals is saved for soup.
Once the chickens are cooked, I separate the birds into 3 parts: (1) white meat, (2) dark meat, (3) everything else – skin, bones, tendons, stuck on meat, etc for stock. If it’s going to be a few days before I make stock, then I freeze the dark meat and stock parts to keep them fresh.
Step 2: Make the stock!
Now I start the stock making process weeks before I actually cook anything. I save (admittedly in gallon freezer bags) scraps and peels when I cook for this very purpose. In my stock bag I keep: carrot and celery tops/bottoms, potato pieces, winter squash peels, onion and garlic skins, herb stems, etc. When I have 1 ½ to 2 gallon bags full – I know it’s time to make soup!
I have two big stock pots (about 11 quarts) that I got from IKEA years ago – HERE seems to be the version of it that’s available now. Into the stock pot(s) goes the frozen peelings/veggie pieces, all the leftover chicken parts, giblets, any fresh herbs leftover from roasting, whole peppercorns and any other spices you like, and filtered water.
Now all you have to do is let it simmer! I typically start my stock first thing in the morning, let it bubble all day, and then strain it with a big colander before bed (so over 12 hours of cooking). You don’t need to do anything with it while it cooks but stir it occasionally.
Once it’s cooked and strained, it needs to be chilled so bring the fat and other impurities to the surface. I let this happen overnight and then skim off the layer of yuck in the morning.
Now you have rich, beautiful, glorious stock! For this batch, I had two FULL bags of frozen scraps and my two chicken carcasses, so I cooked the stock in two pots. I ended up with about 7 quarts of stock.
Step 3: Make the soup!
I’m not great at following recipes (as I’ve said before) but I tried to keep track of what I typically do to make soup for y’all : )
Mason Jar Tip / Trick:
Fresh herbs are A-Mason for sure, but keeping them fresh between when you buy them and when you’re ready to use them isn’t always easy. My favorite trick is to freshly trim the bottom of my bunch of herbs, grab the right size Mason jar for the bunch(es) I have so they don’t tip over, fill the jar about halfway full of filtered water, and store it in the fridge. This will keep your herbs perky and ready to go for several days (maybe even a week if they’re very fresh when you buy them).
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- 1 quart (2 medium) onions, chopped
- 1 quart (1 stalk) celery, chopped
- 1 quart (plus 1 pint and ½) carrots, chopped
- 1 quart potatoes, chopped
- 1 quart frozen corn
- 2 bunches of parsley, stems removed and chopped
- 2 pounds dark meat chicken
- 2 pounds (32 oz) wild rice
- 4 quarts of store bought stock or bone broth (optional)
- 7 quarts of homemade stock
- Any leftover gravy (optional)
- Any leftover potato water (optional)
- Flour or starch to thicken (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onions in butter for 3-5 minutes until translucent. While this is cooking, start wild rice with 4 quarts of store bought stock or water. Cook rice until al dente.
Then add in potatoes (I salt and pepper these) and cook until moderately tender. Next throw in carrots and celery and cook until mostly tender.
Next add in 7 quarts of homemade stock, frozen corn, chicken, gravy, and potato water. Allow ingredients to come to a simmer and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you like a thicker, creamier soup (we do!), whisk in your flour or starch of choice until desired consistency is achieved.
Finally add in parsley and wild rice and allow to warm but not overcook. Garnish with extra parsley and serve!
This recipe made around 14 quarts of soup, or 448 oz, 7 meals consisting of 64 oz each. I broke it up into 6 dinners and 5 individual servings.
Keep It In The Fridge:
For soup being kept in the fridge, I use wide mouth pint to pint and ½ Mason jars with stainless steel bands and silicone lid liners. This helps with reheating as I can simply remove the band, slightly move the liner off the top for venting, and put the jar into the microwave. Soup in the fridge will keep for several days.
Keep It In The Freezer:
If I’m going to freeze soup, I typically do so in individual serving in wide mouth pint jars. This way if anyone comes down with a cold or feels sick, it’s easy to pull a jar out to thaw for them. I seal these with our stainless steel storage lids and silicone lid liners to keep the soup fresh. Soup in the freezer will keep for months.
You can, of course, freeze larger servings as well and they reheat beautifully!
The general rule of thumb for freezing Mason jars is that the jar needs to be straight up and down with no “shoulders”. To help you out, we have a list of which Mason jars are freezer safe on our graphics:
And that’s all there is to it! Healthy, hearty, delicious homemade soup is so easy and satisfying to make! I love having some in the freezer and fridge for fast, stress free dinners.
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I thought Irish soda bread would be a fun and appropriate accompaniment to Mary’s delicious homemade soup.
I first made Irish soda bread back in 2020, sometime during our first few weeks of quarantine, when I was trying to use whatever I had in my home pantry, and limiting grocery trips. Our family wanted bread, but I didn’t have yeast on hand…so Irish soda bread to the rescue! I could not believe how easy and delicious it was! (Yes, I did eventually give in to the sourdough trend. The time and intensity level of that was a whole different story for another day.)
How do Mason jars fit in? Well, I store my baking soda, flour, and salt in Mason jars…and this bread goes perfectly with Mary’s Mason jar soup! I’m sure you could find a recipe for bread baked in Mason jars, but I’m just making a traditional loaf here.
Some accessories that make this even easier:
No Logo Stainless Steel Storage Lids with Silicone Seals – so that you can easily write on the lid what’s in your jar
- MJL Leak Proof Plastic Storage Lids for Mason Jars – would also work and are easy to write on
- Cocktail Shaker for Mason jars – yes it’s unconventional for a salt shaker but we love it!
- Stainless Steel Spice Shaker Lid for Regular Mouth Mason Jars – another option for your salt
- Stainless Steel Spoon Clip – on the side of your Mason jar makes it easy to measure out your ingredients
This recipe is so easy, my nine-year-old daughter basically made it herself as I read her the instructions. Here we go!
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Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1 ½-2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix or sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add buttermilk and mix/knead (with your hands or a wooden spoon) until the dough comes together. You want it to be soft, moist, and not sticky/wet or crumbly. Keep slowly adding buttermilk and kneading until you reach this texture. Don’t over-knead. Basically, stop kneading right when you reach the right consistency.
Take a baking sheet and place a piece of parchment paper on top. Make your dough into a disc and set it on the parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut an x across the top of the disc.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy with some delicious Mason jar soup!
We hope you’ve found some inspiration and ideas to warm up your winter with these soup-er easy comfort foods! We’d love to hear what are your favorite tips and tricks are for making homemade soup and bread using Mason jars. Find us on social media and share them with us. We LOVE to hear from you! Join the conversations going on right now on our Facebook business page, Mason Jar Lifestyle, or Facebook group, Living The Mason Jar Lifestyle! We are also on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Looking forward to connecting with you soon!