Beautiful Soup!

As the weather turns cooler in my part of the world, my kitchen gears up for soup making. I do a different soup each week and freeze the leftovers so that we have a continuous supply all winter long.

Making soup is a lot easier than you might think. If you've never made soup from scratch, now's your chance! You can start your soup with plain water, or you can use canned or packaged broths, but making your own stock is rewarding and healthy, and inexpensive too. Note that I use fresh herbs. This is because I grow them. Dry herbs are perfectly ok.

There are hundreds of variations of basic soup stock from all the cultures of the world, These recipes are my own, tried and true. Before you can have really good soup, you need good stock. Here are my very basic soup starters.

Vegetable Stock

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley stems (save the leaves for another use)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 4 quarts of water

Put everything into a large pot and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Strain out & discard the solids and there you are.

Chicken Stock

  • 3 pounds chicken wing tips and backs
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced and carefully washed
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley stems
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of sage (or use 1/2 tsp dry poultry seasoning)
  • 6 quarts of water

Put the chicken into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring the pot up to a slow boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. When no more foam rises, add all the other ingredients. Reduce the heat to a very slow simmer, cover and cook for at least 2 hours. Strain and discard the solids. For clearer stock, strain again through a double layer of cheese cloth. This stock should gel when chilled, because of the rich gelatin from the chicken bones.

Brown Stock

  • 3 pounds of soup bones, either beef or veal
  • 2 carrots, cut in 1" pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, whole
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a sprig of thyme or 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • a few peppercorns
  • 6 quarts of water

Place the bones, carrot, celery, onion and garlic in a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast at 400 f, for 30 to 40 minutes until the bones are well browned, turning half way through. Put everything into a large stock pot and add the water and herbs. Pour some of the water into the roasting pan and scrape up all the baked on bits, and add this to the pot. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and discard the solids.

Finishing the Stock

Let the strained stock chill in the refrigerator until all fat rises to the top. Remove every last speck of this fat and discard. You can then put the stock into freezer containers and freeze for later use. You will notice that I do not add salt & pepper to my stocks. I season the soup instead.

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