“A first rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting.”
A good soup stock is like a foundation to a tall building. It makes all the difference when cooking a satisfying soup. When you have a good stock, you have a good foundation, and everything tastes good.
Soup stocks are assets to any cook. They can perk up the dullest of recipes. Substituting a rich stock for water makes an everyday food, like rice, or mash potatoes, or even broccoli have an irresistible taste that your friends and family think to themselves, “Why doesn’t my rice taste like this? Its just rice, but it tastes so yummy.”
Where soup adds flavor, they can also save calories. Sautéing veggies and meats with stock instead of oils or fat gives room in the calorie count and allows for dessert. And that alone is motivating to take creating a deep rich stock.
Investing in soup stock can be a mindset but not one that requires real money. If anything, one has to never throw away a thing, but rather clean, store and save it, and then simmer it on the stove with love and attention. Creating stock is creating art in the kitchen that speaks to the soul and to the body.
Stock making epitomizes true resourcefulness and sustainable living. When cleaning a carrot for a salad, save the peels along with onion peels, the ends of celery, and the basis for a veggie stock is well under way. Don’t look at peelings as trash, but rather the foundation for your next soup, or risotto broth.
Any vegetables can be used for a stock, but be aware of cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower can make a stock pungent. However, save those pungent veggies .One use of the broccoli stalks is to chop them up in small pieces, cook them and use the entire stalk in a broccoli cheese soup. In other words, save the more pungent vegetables for a soup where they can shine and be the star rather than competing with other vegetables in a standard vegetable stock.
Keep large freezer bags of scraps, label the date and place them in one spot in your freezer. Make a good stock on Sundays, place it in your fridge and use it all week.
The main stocks I use are a vegetable stock and a chicken stock, but those who love a good chowder make a fish stock with the same basic principles of the veggie stock, just adding bones or chicken pieces for chicken, and fish bones or shells for fish stock.
Here is the basic recipe for a vegetable stock:
Wash all veggies before peeling (another good reason the buy organic vegetables)
Save all peelings from potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic onions, mushrooms, add any fresh herbs from basil to rosemary. Use a half ingredient to half water ratio. Place a stock pot on the stove and add a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of peppercorns, and a bay leaf. Simmer, simmer, and simmer. Never let it boil. If you let it boil fat and scum incorporate themselves into the stock and make it cloudy. If this happens you can clarify the stock.
To clarify stock: Add 2 eggs whites, lightly beaten and the crushed eggs shells of the eggs. Allow this to come to a boil and boil briskly for two minutes. Next, strain through the thicknesses of three layers of cheesecloth. Your stock is ready to go.
Add a squeeze of fresh lime to vegetable broth before using.
If soup is too salty, add half of a peeled, raw potato.
Never cover the soup kettle airtight unless its contents have cooled completely
because the stock will sour.
Enjoy making a good stock. Next week we will explore really good fall soups and stews.
Tricia Stearns is the market manager of the Peachtree City Farmers Market, ptcfarmersmarket.org, a Realtor with Prudential Georgia Realty and a mom of three grown daughters. You can read her blog at www.purpleokra.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.