Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Homemade Soup Stock: Mystery solved March 5, 2009

finished-soup-stockBy Julia Pantoga

One of the ways to “trick” people into thinking that you’re really a pro when it comes to cooking is to make the same thing over and over again and stock your freezer with it. This is what I do with soup stock. I’ve been making soup stock from the same two recipes for years now; and since I make soup once a week, I end up making soup stock over and over again.

Making soup stock isn’t really easy, but it isn’t really hard either. The word I’d use is “satisfying.” Making soup stock involves chopping, making a mess and squishing vegetables with your hands, all good things in my book. In the end, you have at least three quarts of homemade stock in your freezer, which I guarantee will gain you instant domestic goddess (or god) status.

Vegetarian cookbooks of the seventies will have you believe that all you have to do to make vegetarian soup stock is save the cuttings from your vegetables and boil them. I haven’t found that to be true. For one thing, your stock will always taste different depending on the scraps you have. For another thing, it’s just not likely that, in these days of packaged bite-sized carrots, you will ever have enough carrot scraps. Most importantly though is that soup stock made from a recipe is an awesome addition to soup; it makes a huge difference flavor-wise.

What follows are recipes for stock, not broth. What is the difference, you might ask.  Stock is an ingredient in soup, broth can be eaten alone.

The first step to making soup stock is assembling the equipment. When I tell you what you will need, you may think this is going to be complicated. This is where doing the same thing over and over comes in handy—after you do this once you will always have the equipment on hand.

Here’s what you’re going to need: 2 eight-quart stock pots, a colander or strainer that fits on the top of one of your stock pots without falling in, cheese cloth (enough to generously line the colander) and containers to store 3 or 4 quarts of stock. The two types of stock I make are vegetable and chicken, which look exactly alike, so I also have packing tape and a permanent marker on hand to label each container “V” or “C”.

Here are the recipes I use:

Chicken Stock

4 carrots – chopped into 2 inch pieces
4 stalks of celery – chopped into 2 inch pieces
4 onions – cut into eight pieces each
15 parsley stems
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
1 small chicken

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need two bowls for sorting the chicken from the bones.

sorting-the-chicken1

sorted chicken

1.     Put all the ingredients in a pot and cover with water.
2.    Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for four hours.
3.    Turn the heat off and let cool.
4.    This is the messy part. Put your extra stock pot in the sink. Put your colander on top of the pot and line the colander with cheese cloth. Go change into a T-shirt that you can splatter chicken grease on and wash your hands. When the stock is cool enough to put your hands into, pull the chicken out and plop it into the colander. I’ve tried using tongs, big spoons and other devices to remove the chicken from the pot and found that good old hands work best. Over the colander, to catch any broth that drips off the chicken, separate the chicken meat from the skin and bones. This step is a mess, but totally worth it. The chicken you will gather is great shredded chicken for chicken salad and/or to put in soups.

5.    Once you recover from that step by throwing the chicken bones away, putting the shredded chicken in the refrigerator and washing your hands again, strain the rest of the stock by pouring vegetables through the cheese cloth and colander. Squeeze the cooked vegetables with your hands to get the juices out. Wrap the (now smashed and sorry) vegetables in the cheese cloth, give the whole thing a final squeeze and throw them away. At this point, I move the stock pot to the counter, wash my hands again and have a cup of coffee.
6.    Pour the finished stock into freezer containers, label and freeze.

 

straining-the-vegetables

straining the vegetables

Vegetable Stock
(much neater, but involves more shopping and chopping – and no great shredded chicken leftovers to show for your efforts)

3 tablespoons butter (for vegan broth, use olive oil)
3 large onions
3 big carrots
1 broccoli stalk
1 large leek
2 stalks celery
1 small zucchini
1 ¼ cup white wine
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove – cut in half
1 whole clove

1.     Cut the onions into rings and sauté in butter.
2.    Add broccoli, leek. Carrots, celery and zucchini and sauté.
3.    Add wine and 4 quarts of water.
4.    Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, garlic and clove.
5.    Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.
7.    Put your extra stock pot in the sink. Put your colander on top of the pot and line the colander with cheese cloth. Strain the stock by pouring vegetables through the cheese cloth and colander. Squeeze the cooked vegetables with your hands to get the juices out. Wrap the (now smashed and sorry) vegetables in the cheese cloth, give the whole thing a final squeeze and throw them away.
6.    Pour the finished stock into freezer containers, label and freeze.

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