guest blog by Ruthie Cohen
When I pass the cartons of vegetable stock in the soup aisle at the supermarket, the zeal of a new convert overwhelms me. “Why?” I shout silently, “why purchase that bland concoction that bears a closer resemblance to dishwater than it does to vegetables when you have everything you need to make a delicious stock at home already?!”
Not convinced? No time? No experience? No excuses!!!
Before you throw out those peels from the onion you just cut up, or the tips and peels from carrots you chopped, the bruised parts of the tomatoes you cut out, the celery leaves that usually get thrown out, the potatoes you skinned, and the tips you removed from zucchini and mushrooms, gather them up and make your own stock. It is that simple. And it is made even simpler with items available at Goods for Cooks and a few tips to streamline the operation.
Ready? Here goes:
When you are preparing a meal that requires fresh vegetables, grab a big bowl and set it on the counter next to your chopping board. As you peel and cut, throw the scraps into the bowl. You will be surprised by how much accumulates.
Pick up a Soup Sock. It is a stretchable mesh bag, reminiscent of fishnet stockings. Place all of the scraps in the bag. Tie the top of the bag in a loose knot.
If you are not planning on making the stock right away, or if you want to collect more scraps, place the stuffed Soup Sock in a Fabric Produce Bag. Save woven fabric bags (also fishnet stocking-esque) for whole fruits and vegetables. You want to use the fabric produce bag because it prevents the odor of the peels from overwhelming your fridge. Scraps will keep for a week or more.
When you are ready to create your delicious and rich stock, remove the mesh bag from the fabric bag. Secure the knot. Run the bag under a stream of water to remove any dirt from the peels.
Find your largest pot. Place the mesh bag in the pot and fill it up with water. Even a moderate amount of vegetable scraps—e.g., the peels of one onion, one sweet potato, some garlic tips, and a few parsnip or carrot scrapings— will yield a yummy stock. Think of one cup of peels to eight cups of water.
Bring the water to a boil. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. You will note, depending on what peels you use, that the water will turn color rather quickly, ranging from light amber to a deep reddish hue. Turn off the heat. Let the pot sit on the stove for an hour or more. When the water has cooled, remove the mesh bag and squeeze out as much goodness as you can back into the stock. Discard the peels. They have served you well, twice over!
If you are not planning to prepare a soup right away (note: you can make rice with stock, or add it when you mash potatoes for and an extra layer of flavor), refrigerate or freeze the stock in containers with a twist lid. You might consider different sized containers so you have flexibility if you want to make something that doesn’t call for a large amount of stock.
Most savory soups begin with some combination of onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and peppers, so you already have the beginnings of your next stock collection. When you sauté your vegetables and add the other ingredients that your recipe calls for, pour in your homemade stock in lieu of water or that store-bought carton. You will find that you don’t need to season the broth as much as the recipe calls for because the stock has done that for you.
When you have experienced the flavor and joy of making your own vegetable stock, the boxed broth will have no place in your shopping cart!
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