Soup Stock from Scratch: RE-Posting from 2009

NOTE: Since I plan to post several soup & stew recipes this month, I thought I would reprint my soup stock recipe. This is a great way to use up part of veggies you might otherwise discard or compost. Not that composting is a bad idea, but this is the first step in the recycling process: reduce waste. New soup recipe coming later in the week.

One of the jobs I held when I lived (a second time) in upstate New York was at a health food store. I was the assistant or substitute cook for the regular chef. Whenever I would help in the kitchen, the chef would have a large pot of water on the back of the stove. As she prepared salads and entrees, she would toss in all the odds and ends from the veggies: carrot tops, celery leaves, cabbage cores, etc. She even threw in egg shells for added protein.

At the end of the day, she removed the cooked veggies and discarded them, since all their goodness was now in the soup stock. (However, I had a friend who pureed them and added the thick veggies back to the soup or ate the creamy mixture separately.) Once strained, the soup was placed in the refrigerator to cool. The next day, whoever was on call would have a starter for the day’s soups. This idea is economical, ecological, and nutritious! How can it miss?

Making your own soup stock is actually a great way to utilize vegetable stems, leaves, cores, etc. that you might otherwise discard. When I posted a basic soup stock recipe in January 2007, I gave specific ingredients. This time I am providing some basic green guidelines so that you will always have some stock in the works or in the fridge for all your dishes. Below is a soup stock recipe and a recipe for a simple soup.

Concerning herbs: If I buy parsley or dill, I cut off the stems and place them in the freezer for future stock. I then use my fresh herbs in the recipes for that week. If I have leftover herbs from a recipe, I add them to the stock.

Note: My friend Dorothy pointed out that by the time she could gather all these items, the first items would be rotten. So, if you don’t use enough veggies for a weekly broth, place the formerly discarded parts of the vegetables in the freezer, already washed, and when you have at least 2 cups of veggies, you can make the broth.

Ecological Soup Broth

Utensils: Cutting board & knife, large soup pot
Prep. Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: At least one hour
Category: Vegan

4-5 quarts pure water
*Any or all of the following:
garlic cloves, peeled
green parts of leeks, sliced lengthwise and washed of all sand
carrot greens, plus one or two carrots
celery tops with leaves
core from cabbage
cauliflower leaves and core
lower stems from broccoli
snapped-off stems from asparagus
beet greens, especially yellow beet greens for a golden soup color
(I sometimes put a whole beet in the soup for a richer golden color, and then eat the beet)
one sweet or white potato (optional)
onions (use up one already cut if on hand)
any other part of a vegetable that you usually discard*
herbs of choice on hand, such as parsley.

* I never have all these on hand. I am giving you a long list so you can see that almost anything works. You could add parsnips, turnips greens, jicama, radishes, etc. What you have is what you use! Also, if you are not a vegetarian, feel free to use chicken, meat, etc. in the mix. My mother always bought soup bones from the butcher for her soup.

1. Wash all the veggies and herbs well to be sure there is no sand or dirt from the stems or in the leaves.
2. Cut or slice veggies into smaller pieces and place in a large pot of water with 2 or 3 peeled garlic cloves.
3. Bring the water to a boil, simmer, and allow to cook for at least one hour, preferably two. (I sometimes put everything in my crock pot and let it stew while I am doing other errands or other cooking.)
4. After one or two hours, remove all the veggies, except carrots and perhaps potatoes.
5. Cool the strained broth. I often transfer the broth to a new pot that is not hot and place it in the ‘frig. Then, when I can handle the soup, I pour the broth into jars and place back in the fridge. I slice the potatoes and carrots to be used in the next soup or dish, if needed.

Note: You can use this nutritious broth, minus the carrot and potato, not only for soup, but for making any grain, which will give added flavor as well as a nutritious boost to your dish.  Put cooked veggies onto compost.

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