I love making soups (even in the summer), but I'm horrible about remembering to save things to make a good stock. From what I hear, the stock is the foundation of the soup and so I need to step up my stock game.
Aliza Green to the rescue! Aliza's newest book, The Soupmaker's Kitchen, is filled with tips, techniques, and recipes for home chefs. I thought that rather than sharing a recipe from this book, I'd share some of Aliza's thoughts and suggestions on making stock. I know I'm going to be keeping these in mind all summer long as we get all of our fresh veggies from the farm CSA.
Stocks: The Foundation
In most good kitchens, one of the chef’s tasks is inspecting the trash cans to make sure that nothing useful is tossed out, whether the cores of sweet bell pepper, the skin of onions, the head of a fish, or the wing tips of chicken. We can learn from the masters and get every last bit of flavor by making our own stock, one of the most satisfying tasks in the kitchen.
Save That Vegetable Cooking Water
Many of the nutrients and much of the flavor of vegetables is contained in their cooking water, so don’t throw it out. Potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, spinach, green beans, beets, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, cauliflower, leeks, and sweet bell peppers all taste good and will give you instant vegetable stock. The water from cooking cabbage, rutabagas, or turnips will be too strong to use for delicate soups. Save small amounts of liquid in a ziplock bag or a small freezer container until you have enough to be useful, making sure to date and label the package. This is best done with organic vegetables, as conventional vegetables may leach pesticides into the cooking water.
The Roasting Juices Are the Best Part
If you’re a meat eater, you will often have trimmings from either raw or cooked product. Turn them into homemade stock that is full of flavor with rich body. Put that roasted chicken carcass, or the bones from a roasted meat, and any juices that have dripped off into a pot, add cold water, and simmer until the remaining meat falls off the bone. After a few hours, add aromatic vegetables and tender herb trimmings and continue simmering.
• Start stock using cold water, which helps extract gelatinous collagen that may be sealed in by hot water.
• Bring the stock up to a boil slowly, skimming away the fat and impurities that rise to the surface.
• Simmer the stock very gently so that small bubbles just break the surface. If it boils, it will get cloudy.
• Do not add salt to stock because often stocks are reduced. Season the soup, not the stock.
• When preparing a protein-based stock, add the meat first to the (cold) liquid and bring it to a boil. Skim off the white, and then tan, scum that rises to the surface before adding vegetables and other ingredients such as herbs and spices. For tough cuts, such as beef brisket or ham hock, simmer the protein for up to 24 hours before adding the vegetables, which will impart all their flavor and body to the stock after 1 to 2 hours.
• To remove the fat from a stock, strain, preferably into a stainless steel bowl, which allows the stock to cool faster. Once the fat rises to the top, remove it with a ladle or allow the stock to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it, usually overnight, or until the fat on the surface becomes solid, so that it can be removed easily.
• All stocks freeze well if stored in an airtight container and can be kept frozen up to 3 months
The Soupmaker’s Kitchen is a complete guide to making soups, broths, potages, minestra, minestrone, bisques, and borscht. Learn how to set up your kitchen to use your ingredients most optimally—from saving vegetable scraps for stock to tips on freezing finished soups. Explore more than 100 soup recipes, plus variations on each one, from all over the world, and in every style of soup you might want to eat. Recipes include:
—Hungarian Woodlands Mushroom Soup with Sour Cream and Paprika
—Tuscan Pappa al Pomodoro
—Senegalese Peanut and Yam Puree with Ginger
—Provencal Soupe au Pistou with Savoy Cabbage, White Beans, and Leeks
—Wild Salmon Chowder with Sweet Corn & Gold Potatoes
—Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)
—Cream of Cauliflower with Nutmeg and Chives
—Kerala Red Lentil Soup (vegan)
—Vietnamese Pho Soup with Beef Brisket
—Caribbean Callalou Soup with Crabmeat and Coconut
Focus on fresh ingredients and learn how to use every part of them to minimize waste, save money, and maximize flavor with The Soupmaker’s Kitchen!