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Don’t throw that away! Use your kitchen parings from your other delicious meals to make scrumptious homemade soup stock! (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2013

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup. ~ Ludwig von Beethoven

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Soup

 

What’s your favorite meal for a cold, wintery day?

In our home, soup is king when it comes to warming up after a day outside plowing, shoveling or playing in the snow. And there’s nothing more comforting than coming inside from the cold to the smell of a pot of homemade soup, simmering and beckoning from the kitchen…

Our family loves soup so much, that I always want to be prepared to respond to the request, “Mom, can we have soup?” We find canned soup to be far too salty for our tastes, and prefer fresh soup, with ingredients we choose. One thing that makes it oh-so-easy to put together some freshly made soup is having a supply of homemade stock ready. With a pot of homemade soup stock, you only need a handful of rice and some frozen veggies to make a delicious meal. Of course, you can always get fancier, but you see what I mean.

I know. The idea of mincing and dicing and simmering all day is NOT what a busy, working woman (or man!) is thinking of when pondering the idea of homemade stock. With the availability of all sorts of stock and soup products at your local market, why NOT take advantage of the convenience of store-bought foods?

My favorite stock preparation method leaves me always having a supply of soup stock handy, using food items that might ordinarily be discarded, and involves no mincing or dicing, and almost no effort. This delicious stock technique (I can’t really call it a “recipe”) only has five steps. Using this method, anyone can have a pot of delicious, nutritious, homemade soup stock in a morning’s time. With no stress. I promise.

 

 

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This Post is Day 9 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

 

 What is “stock?” Why use homemade stock?

 

Soup is a combination of a watery or creamy base, veggies and/or meat, and herbs and spices. Almost all soup recipes include, as part of the base, some kind of stock. Stock, simply put, is the liquid base of that tasty pot of soup you are preparing. Stock can be created from meat, vegetables, or a combination of the two. In this “recipe,” the stock will be formed from a mixture of meat and vegetables.

You can certainly buy canned stock, or bouillon, to use as the base for your soup. Most commercially prepared stock, even “low salt” forms, use far more salt than we prefer, because that salt is needed in the processing of the canned product. I also find them somewhat tasteless. I’m not sure how much vegetable or meat material is used for a can of prepared stock. But I just don’t find them very flavorful.

When you make your own stock, the variety and types of ingredients make the stock so rich, that you don’t really miss the salt as a seasoning. In addition, because you are making it fresh, you don’t need to worry about salting it for processing. I also love the variety – the little bit of surprise – that comes from making your own stock with ingredients at hand. Each pot is a new creation!

I will admit it – I feel really, really guilty about throwing away something that I think has good food still in it. This method for making stock makes me feel really good about being a good steward of the food God has given us. This is a no-waste kitchen technique!

 

Making homemade stock only involves five simple steps:

  1. Collect your ingredients.
  2. Add water and seasonings.
  3. Simmer
  4. Strain.
  5. Store.

 

Collecting the Ingredients for Your Stock

 

Homemade stock, without effort? How can that be?

The secret to my homemade stock is the use of kitchen food items that are by-products of my regular cooking activities: peels, cores and other edible, but not eaten, food items. These items are nutritious, but we don’t eat them, because they are too woody or tough, or have a texture that is not pleasing to the mouth. Because they are already cut up, you don’t have to spend any time preparing them for the stockpot. And, because they are prepared during the normal cooking process of other meals, there really is no additional time spent to prepare the stock.

What Goes In…

 

If we start thinking of our kitchen parings as being hidden sources of nutrition, we realize that there are many things that we discard daily that are still good food. The only additional step required to access their nutrition is to develop a system for collecting them up. Here is how I collect the ingredients for a vegetable stock:

I buy a box of gallon size zipper-style baggies. Every time I cook, I keep this bag, opened, nearby my food prep area. Into the bag, I place …

  • Fruit and vegetable peels: onions, apples, cucumbers, potatoes, outer lettuce leaves… as long as it’s not bitter (like citrus), or woody (like melon rinds)…
  • Fruit and vegetable cores: apples, peppers, melon pulp/seeds, cabbage…
  • The dried-out or tough ends of vegetables: celery hearts, broccoli or asparagus stems…
  • Fruit and vegetable pulp left over from my juicer (finally- a use for this!)…
  • Vegetable tops: carrots, celery, turnips…
  • Wilted salad greens…
  • Veggies that have accidentally frozen…

All of these are items that are still nutritious, but we don’t eat them, because they are too tough or not a texture that we prefer. In fact, many peels have vitamins and minerals in them in higher amounts than in the inside. In between fillings, I put the bag in the freezer.

 

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Trimmings, peels and cores from all your favorite fruits and vegetables make this homemade stock an adventure, every time. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2011

 

 

Fruits? In a vegetable stock? Yes! I decided to include these, after considering that I stuff my Thanksgiving turkey with apples, onions and celery, and I throw the whole carcass into the stock pot. While I use all kinds of fruits and veggies in the stock, I find that the addition of some make for some really tasty stock: asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, for example. You will find the combination that you like. Feel free to experiment – the only thing you have to lose is some time and a pot of water, as you are using things that you would normally not eat by themselves!

I keep a separate gallon bag for meat scraps. Meat doesn’t last as long in the freezer as vegetables do (although my ingredients are never in the freezer longer than a week). Plus, sometimes you want just meat stock, or just vegetable stock. Some kinds of meat scraps I add to the bag:

  • Large bones from roasts…
  • Skin/fat from chicken or other poultry cuts…
  • Giblets (if not prepared for the pets)…
  • Pieces of leftover cooked meat (pork chops, chicken legs, etc)…
  • Carcasses from roasted poultry…

Skin and fat? Yes! The flavor of meat stock is mostly in the fat. Processed stock removes the fat, and adds salt in its place. Yuck. You can always cool the stock and remove extra fat from the top, if there is a lot.

 

What Doesn’t Go In…

 

With all that you CAN put in your stock, there are a (very) few things that you shouldn’t include:

  • Dirty materials – this kind of goes without saying: always wash your produce before peeling, so this isn’t a problem.
  • Obviously rotten, moldy or spoiled material – probably not really healthy for you, and they may affect the flavor, as well as decrease the storage life of your finished stock.
  • Parts of fruits and vegetables that don’t have a good flavor (citrus rinds or banana peels, for example).
  • Dairy, eggs or bread products – just… no.
  • Canned or frozen veggies – you CAN put these in your stock, but why not save them to add to the SOUP?

Keep your stock ingredients in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Usually, I make stock when the veggie bag is packed full (I add the meat to my veggies, but you don’t have to).

 

 

Homemade Soup Stock – Simple and Delicious!

 

As I mentioned before, making your own stock is so simple. The only new thing you’ll have to learn how to do is get out your frozen baggie of goodies each time you cook.

  • 1 gal of stock ingredients (one full zipper bag)
  • 8 c water
  • Seasonings, to taste (I add a little salt, freshly ground black pepper, a couple of bay leaves)

Stove-top Method:

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot. Heat to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer covered for 1-2 hrs. Cool slightly. Strain stock into a clean pot through a colander; discard the stock scraps (I add vegetable scraps to the compost bin, but not meat scraps). {If you use very meaty bones, you can take a moment to pick the meat off the bones before discarding them: add to your soup, or store in an airtight container in your freezer until use.} Use immediately, or store in the freezer in a container with a tightly fitted lid.

Slow Cooker Method:

Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook on low, covered, for 6 hrs. Continue as for Stove-top Method. {Some cooks keep a stock pot of “perpetual broth” going constantly, ladling stock through a filter to use as desired, and adding new scraps as available.}

The slow cooker method is even more wonderful, because you just start the stock and forget about it.

 

Souping Things Up With Homemade Stock

 

See – I told you it was easy, didn’t I?

If you get in the habit of saving up your stock ingredients in the freezer, you will always have a delicious pot of homemade stock ready for any recipe you want to make. I tend to make a pot of stock a week – enough for a batch of soup – and I give my slow cooker a rest in between. A new bag of goodies is usually ready by the time the pot of soup is eaten up.

Use you stock wherever a recipe calls for vegetable or meat stock. I love to use these stocks in homemade minestrone – the variety of ingredients adds a nice depth to the stock, bringing out the flavor of the vegetables in the minestrone.

Here are three of my favorite recipes using homemade stock, from my Pinterest board, Fast Metabolism Diet:

 

Stocking Up on Homemade Stock

That’s it! Five simple steps to homemade stock: collect, add, simmer, strain and store!

 

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Homemade stock… the “before” shot…
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… and the finished stock! {photo credits (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2015}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would love to see your “before” and “after” shots of your stock making efforts! Post a link or a photo, below! Happy Souping!

 

 

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