Hopefully, by the time you are reading this blog, the fall winds will be blowing, even though at the time of this writing the temperature is pushing 90 degrees. Once the cold arrives, other than lattes and tea, you’ll probably still want to grab something warm to eat and drink. So grab your favorite mug/bowl/cup/crock and hold tight.
A good stock is the secret to so many other recipes. What makes a homemade stock different from the shelf stable variety you can find at the store? How do you know whether to use chicken or vegetable stock? Where does fish stock come in? Does it? Do you have all of the ingredients? Will it take long to cook? Do I feel like doing all that chopping?
A broth is the liquid left when meat is simmered in water. Stock is the liquid left when bones are simmering in water. Which one do I want for my soups? Broths might do in a pinch but a good homemade stock will make your soup gain a few levels of awesome, not to mention your Brisket and Chicken Fricassee. Stocks have much richer flavor and feel heartier than broths. A good stock has a rounded sensation and full texture as you eat it. That is from the collagen extracted from the bones as they are simmered. And yes, they take a while to build -- but trust me, it’s well worth the wait.
Soups are one of the most cost effective dishes to make but they still aren’t free. Like the old children's book Stone Soup there are a lot of things needed to make an amazing soup. The majority of your soup will be the clear brothy part. The bits and pieces are what we will call ‘garnish’. The garnish will flavor the brothy part but if you cook it all together you will end up with very overcooked garnish and a fairly tasty broth but we can do so much better. Try making a stock or two and how you can turn the cheapest bits of bones into the finest course for your family's feast.
Basic but epic chicken stock
8-12 qts of cold water
4 lbs chicken bones
½-1 cup white wine/ 2 tbs fresh lemon/lime juice / 2 tsp of vinegar.
Vegetable options: onion, celery, carrot
Put all ingredients in your stock pot. Heat on medium-high heat until it just breaks a boil and then reduce to a bear boil. You should see small individual bubbles a few times a minute. That is enough heat. Let cook for 3-4 hours. At that point you will have extracted all that the bones can give.
*skimming: some people swear skimming makes clear broth. I don’t bother but if you do it will take 5-10 minutes ones simmering for a foamy scum to form on the surface of the broth. Skim it off with a spoon.
4 lbs beef bones (meat not necessary)
1 6oz can tomato paste
8-12 qts of cold water
Vegetable options: onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms,
But oven on low broil. Coat bones in tomato paste. Broil 10 minutes each side. They should be browned and a little crusty. Remove and put in your stock pot and fill with the cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 6-10 hours.
Stock to soup transformations
Egg drop soup (ingredients, chicken stock, 3 tbs corn starch, 1 egg, salt, green onion)
Bring broth to a rolling boil. Mix in a separate dish 3 TBS and ½ cup water. Drizzle and mix into the broth at the same time bring back to a boil and turn off the stove. Scrambled egg in a dish drizzle into the soup in two or three additions and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Salt to taste. Serve and garnish with green onion.
Beef and barley (ingredients, 6 QTS Beef Stock, 1 onion, 3 stalks celery, 1lb mushrooms, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 bay leaf, ¼ tsp thyme, Cubed beef chuck, ½ cup barley, salt)
Dice onion, celery and slice mushrooms. Sautee vegetables, cubed beef and 1 tbs salt in the bottom of your soup pot with olive oil. Add stock, barley, bay leaf and thyme. Cook for 2+ hours until the meat is tender. Salt to taste and enjoy
Bouillabaisse (french fish soup)
The stock (3 lbs boney fish bones *NOT SALMON, 2 cup white wine, ½ bunch parsley, ½ tsp thyme, 1 bay leaf, 4 qts water)
The garnish (1 lb salmon fillet cubed, 1 lb mild white fish such as snapper cubed, 1 large onion, 1 head fennel, 2 lbs potatoes, 8ish cloves garlic, 2 tomatoes, salt, ¼ tsp cayenne, 2 tsp paprika, 1 pinch saffron, 1 cup olive oil)
*salmon is too oily to make a pleasant stock. A mild white fish makes a much better stock.
To make the stock simmer for 1+ hours. Fish bones don’t need any more time than that. Remove bones and parsley. You have just made a quick fish fumet.
To assemble the soup dice all the vegetables and add them and the spices to the stock. Cook for 30 minutes until they are all soft. Before serving, add the cubed fish and bring to a hard boil. Once at a full boil drizzle in the full cup of olive oil and continue to boil for 3-5 min. Serve with a piece of crusty toast.