Apparently I am on a soup kick. The kitchen is full of vegetables, boxes of stock, empty cans (from beans) and the occasional chicken bone. I have decided to conquer the market of expensive packaged stock and produce my own. My quest will be to use whatever vegetables I have leftover at the end of the week and make a stock from them! Yay!
Now you may be reading this thinking, Kendra is wacked. There is no way I am making stock every week. But please, I beg you, continue reading and I may persuade you to join me in my homemade stock crusade!! Here’s the best thing about producing your own – you probably have everything in your kitchen right at this very moment to make stock. The base for a decent stock is only a handful of things – mirepoix (for all you who have been to my WS classes you know what this is!! – carrots, celery and onion: all equal parts), garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and water. Easy peasy, right?
From there you can add anything you have leftover in your fridge! I like to add beets (even the green tops from beets), fennel, zucchini, yellow squash, rutabega, parsnips, herbs (I prefer parsley, basil, rosemary and thyme), and etc. You can even add trimmings or the peels from vegetables, just make sure they are washed well. And if you have any extra chicken breasts, trim the fat and toss those in as well!
Now, there are two basic ways to produce stock. One way is to put everything in a pot, cover it with water and let it simmer very slowly for a couple hours. This produces a beautiful, light colored, delicate stock. The other way is to roast the mirepoix (and chicken pieces if you are using those) until medium brown in color and then add that to the pot with the remaining ingredients and cover with water. This technique produces a much deeper colored stock with a perfumed level of depth. I prefer the second technique as it lends a richer flavor from the caramelizing of the sugars in the vegetables.
My final tip to you – after your stock has simmered for a few hours and your kitchen smells delectable, allow it to cool and then package it in 2 cup measurements in freezer safe baggies. Pop these in the freezer and then whenever you need stock for a recipe you know exactly how many bags you will need! Genius!!
On a final note, during my other quest to organize and conquer my email inbox, I come across a note from my good friend, Dawn Jackson Blatner. She is an AMAZING dietitian in Chicago and you may have seen her on tv, actually! She recently wrote a book on how to lead a “flexitarian” lifestyle and if you are interested in eating healthy, I seriously recommend you check it out! Her book is called The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life. She also writes a blog for USA Today and has some great tips and ideas, so click on the link to check it out!
Many say the measure of a good cook or chef is how good of a soup they can produce. Well, the best way to even begin is to start with a great tasting stock, so please give it a try and enjoy whatever soup you make with it!
Easy Peasy Vegetable Stock
Feel free to use any combination of vegetables or greens (turnips, beets, fennel, etc.). Any vegetables you have hanging out in your fridge!
· 4 carrots, unpeeled and washed
· 2 parsnips, peeled (I like the fresh flavor these add, they are certainly not necessary but do sub fresh parsley if you do not use parsnips)
· 1 yellow onion
· 4 stalks celery
· 6-7 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with back of knife
· 2 bay leaves
· 6-7 sprigs thyme
· 8-10 whole peppercorns
· generous pinch of sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut carrots, turnips, onion, celery and zucchini into 3-4” chunks and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes until browned.
2. Remove vegetables from oven and put in large stock pot. Add all remaining ingredients and cover with cool water.
3. Let simmer 3-4 hours until deeply fragrant. Strain stock through mesh sieve or cheesecloth and discard vegetables and herbs so you are left only with the liquid stock. Allow liquid to cool and then portion out.
***TIP*** After my stock has cooled I like to portion it out by pouring 2 cups of stock into freezer strength quart bags individually and freezing it. That way you know exactly how much you have and you can just pull it out of the freezer when you need it!