Good soups make for wonderful comfort food, so in honor of National Soup Month (January),
I thought I’d start from the very beginning with tips on how to make homemade stock. It’s so much better than the canned stuff and makes for a great launching pad for all kinds recipes. You can use it instead of oil or butter for sauteing veggies or in place of water when cooking rice or other grains. Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty about throwing away scraps of food. You’re recycling and can give yourself a few points for being green.
There’s also no reason to buy those weird little compressed cubes or tiny granules made from unknown ingredients. I checked several instant bouillon products and found most had at least 15 to 20 different things (seriously, unknown things) listed on the label, some which may contain gluten. The number one ingredient was usually salt, then on to sugar and hydrolyzed corn protein. After that, many of the ingredients had chemical names. If you can’t read the label, then it’s probably not real food. Why do we need 20 different substances to make a microscopic granule of broth? Especially when most of us toss perfectly good stock ingredients down the garbage disposal.
And don’t worry, you won’t be slaving away at the stove brewing things up for hours. It’s very easy and can even be part of your clean-up routine if you’ve just roasted a chicken. I don’t have a recipe, but here are the basics. Be creative and use what you have on hand.
First, check out my “garbage” jar I keep in the fridge. Nice and colorful, isn’t it? There are a few beet greens (don’t overdo it on the beets or you’ll have pink stock); the peelings and ends of carrots; the ends of leeks and onions; some mushroom stems; the little leaves from a head of cauliflower; peelings from zucchini; a couple of questionable tomatoes; a half of a raw sweet potato that was somehow never used; a few wilted spinach leaves; the moderately funky ends of some celery; a few spiders and a lizard tail.
Anyway, you get the picture – it’s a great way to use up the marginal veggies in your fridge. Add a handful of dried mushrooms and some herbs to the mix and it will really kick up the flavor.
what you do
Put assorted veggies in a large, deep stock pot. The pot should be about half-full with veggies. Add some garlic, fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, a couple of bay leaves), salt, 2-4 whole black peppercorns, a chopped shallot, and some dried mushrooms, which aren’t necessary, but they sure add a nice earthy flavor and substance to the stock. If I’m in the mood for a little zip to it, I add some chili powder, chopped jalapeno, or red pepper flakes. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, turn heat down, put a lid on it, and simmer for about 1 or 2 hours. Cool and strain. Vegetable stock will keep in the fridge for about 5 days and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
what you do
This doesn’t look all that appetizing in this form, but once it’s strained and the fat is skimmed off, it’s wonderful – much better than the store-bought version. Take the carcass from your roasting chicken, put it in a large pot and add 3 or 4 garlic cloves; several whole black peppercorns; a handful of herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves); some celery, onions, and carrots if you have any; and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 1 to 3 hours. Skim the fat off and strain. Store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Use either of these stocks for a variety of different soups. All you need is 5 or 6 cups of the broth; some sauteed garlic, shallots, or onions; a variety of veggies; some fresh herbs; sea salt and ground pepper; potatoes or GF pasta; and some chicken or meat if you’d like.
In a large pot (like the one above), melt a couple of tablespoons of butter (or use olive oil) and saute the garlic and onions. Add the stock and other veggies. Bring to a boil, lower the temp and simmer until veggies are tender. Season as you like.
* Tinkyada gluten free pasta products don’t turn mushy. They have a variety of different brown rice or veggie pastas; all are certified Kosher, many are organic, and all of them are good!
Enjoy! And take part in National Soup Month, not that I have any idea what that means in the big picture, but at least it might give you incentive to brew up some, good, healthy soups.
In good health,