Making the Perfect Soup Stock


These Recipes have been copied with permission from the Better Times Almanac of Useful Information, 5th Edition       Bob Waldrop, founder The Oscar Romero Catholic Worker-Oklahoma City-

No, we aren't talking about Wall Street. A great soup, sauce, or gravy begins with a great "stock", that is, beef, pork, chicken, or vegetables simmered in water so that the water becomes intensely flavored. The best restaurants make their own stocks, and that is one of the secrets of their success. You can add a lot of quality and flavor to your home cooked meals if you make your own stocks. You can also save a lot of money too.

Leftovers are fine! Use leftover chicken, or the "less favorable" pieces like backs and necks, leftover veggies, leftover roast, trimmings from vegetables (like potato skins), and bones. Don't use any leftovers, however, that are too far past their prime. These recipes can be adapted based on what you have on hand. If you have doubts about a particular vegetable, cook it by itself in some water and see how it tastes.

Soup Bones: if you ask at the meat market for soup bones, you will get bones with meat attached and they are more expensive. Ask for bones for your dog, you'll probably get them for free or they will be very cheap. When roasting the bones in the oven, DO NOT LET THEM TURN BLACK! You want a nice brown, NOT black. If they burn, trim the burned part off or get more bones and start again as burned bones will make the stock bitter. You can also ask for "beef trimmings", which will be bits of meat and fat, if you use trimmings (or stew meat, which some people do but that cut is more expensive), add it to the roasting pan when you put the bones in the oven.

Veggies. An alternative to roasting the carrots and onions is to dice them and then saute them in butter or olive oil until they caramelize (turn a bit brown). This is also achieved by roasting them with the bones. The point of this is to add rich and robust flavors to the beef stock. Add the celery towards the end of the saute process as celery has so much water it doesn't caramelize very well. You can also substitute tomato paste for a whole tomato. Don't use vegetables in the cabbage family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, turnips, cauliflower) Don't use ground or powdered herbs, use whole peppercorns rather than ground black pepper.

Stock Cooking Notes: The best pots for making stock are tall and narrow. Meat stocks benefit from long, slow cooking (5 to 8 hours), vegetable stocks are done in less than an hour. Always skim off any scum that rises to the top during the cooking process. When the stock is finished, strain it to remove any bits and pieces. If desired, it can be further reduced by boiling until it's consistency is sort of like a bouillon cube that has been mixed with a small amount of water. This is called a demi-glace. Since stock making can be quite a production, make more than you will need and freeze it for later. It would be easy to make stock for a month in one day. One great way to freeze it is to put it in ice cube trays and use each cube as you would a bouillon cube.


Chicken Soup Stock

4 stalks celery, chopped 6 carrots, chopped 2 yellow onions, chopped
6 black peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
Chicken necks and backs or other misc pieces or the bones from two chickens

Peel onions before chopping. Chop the vegetables in large pieces, do not include the leaves from the celery (they can be bitter). Put the chickens in soup pot and cover with water. Simmer for 1 hour. Skim off any scum or froth that rises to the top, also any fat.. Add the vegetables. Note that "simmer" is not a rapid boil. When finished, strain and use immediately, or refrigerate or freeze it for use later. After Thanksgiving and Christmas, use the bones from your turkey to make turkey stock.

Beef Stock

2 stalks celery | 3 large Carrots | 1 large Onion | 1 large tomato | 1/2 cup cubed potatoes | 2 cloves Garlic | 8 peppercorns } 4 sprigs fresh parsley |1 bay leaf | 2 tsp dried thyme | 1 tablespoon salt | 12 cups water | 5 or 6 pounds beef bones, best if cut into 2" pieces.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (230 degrees C). Slice onion. Chop scrubbed celery and carrots into 1-inch chunks. In a large shallow roasting pan place soup bones, onion, and carrots. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until the bones are well browned, turning occasionally. Drain off fat. Place the browned bones, onion, and carrots in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Put the empty roasting pan on a burner and add about a half cup water and move it around with a spoon or spatula in order to "deglaze" the pan, pour this and any little bits and pieces of meat or vegetables into the soup pot. If you want to know, these bits and pieces are called "fond" and add LOTS of flavor. Add celery, tomato, parsnips, potato parings, peppercorns, parsley, bay leaf, salt, thyme, garlic and water. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 hours. Strain stock. Adding the vegetables at the beginning of the simmering process will enhance the flavor of the vegetables in the stock. The carrots will give it a sweeter taste. If you want a less sweet stock, or want the flavor of the vegetables to be more subdued, add them in the last hour of cooking..

Basic Vegetable Stock

1 tbsp olive oil |1 large onion | 2 large carrots |1 bunch green onions, chopped | 8 cloves garlic, minced |8 sprigs fresh parsley | 6 sprigs fresh thyme | 2 bay leaves |1 teaspoon salt |2 quarts water | 2 stalks celery

Chop scrubbed vegetables into 1-inch chunks. Remember, the greater the surface area, the more quickly vegetables will yield their flavor. Heat oil in a soup pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, scallions, garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain. Discard vegetables. Other ingredients to consider: mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus (butt ends), corn cobs, bell peppers, pea pods, chard (stems and leaves), celery root parings, marjoram (stems and leaves), basil, potato parings . . . Get the idea?