Customize this basic stock recipe for a base ingredient that’ll take your cooking to the next level.

HOMEMADE STOCKOf all the stocks, chicken is the variety most commonly called for in recipes; fortunately, every whole chicken comes with a free (DIY) batch, and you don’t need a recipe, per se, to make it. The now-ubiquitous rotisserie bird, picked up in a hurry on the way home from work, can be the genesis of a homemade risotto later in the week. Seafood stock is the second most required variety, and when you need it for a recipe, there really are no substitutes (though clam juice might work in a pinch). It’s really not much more difficult than subbing in shellfish—lobster tail shells and shrimp heads are both great—where chicken is called for. Get our recipe for homemade chicken stock here.Variations on Basic Soup Stock•For an Asian-style stock, add some thinly sliced fresh ginger, a handful of fresh cilantro and/or a chopped stalk of lemongrass to the pot.•If you’re after garlicky stock, cut a head of garlic in half crosswise and add it to the pot.stock 101 Photo by Clinton Hussey. Styling by Lawren Moneta.Tip: Freeze Chicken Stock in Small Portions Chicken stock is great to have stashed away in the freezer; cool and strain it completely before freezing. Smaller containers will freeze and thaw more quickly; if using freezer bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet, which makes them stackable. If you often use small quantities of stock, freeze in muffin tins until solid, then pop out and store in a freezer bag. To thaw, put in the fridge for 24 hours; to speed things up, put your container in a bowl of warm water or heat the frozen block in a saucepan over low heat. Want more kitchen tricks? Check out our list of genius kitchen hacks!MORE COOKING ESSENTIALS: THE 2 SAUCES YOU NEED TO MASTER