One of the perks of working from home is the ability to keep warm and cozy in your ugh boots whilst typing very important documents... Even better is reaching behind you to stir the soup bubbling away on the cooktop eagerly awaiting the lunch bell!
Autumn's veggies are perfect for slow simmering in soups, braises and casseroles and, just as good, quickly blanched in a beautifully fragrant Asian broth.
Soup can be quick and easy or slow and complex. Either way, the quality of your soup will be elevated from appealing to out of this world with the addition of a high quality stock. The best stock, is of course the one you make yourself. It is fair to say that there is effort involved but it will pay you back 10-fold and if you are clever in the kitchen you will make a BIG batch and freeze some.
Your dietary bent will dictate your starting point. If you are vegetarian, omit the chook/ beef bones (really?) This is an important point as you will need to add in another flavour whammy.
Now I must confess, I just reacted to the lunch bell and ate a big bowl of Miso vegetable & tofu soup. One of my exceptions to purchasing pre made ingredients is miso - who’s gonna make their own? Replacing traditionally used dashi with home made fish stock, however, will make the world of difference to your miso soup. The salt content in both miso and dashi is very high and when combined makes one crave Asahi and that’s not good after lunch.
As in any recipe, the better the quality of the ingredients, the tastier the dish. Henschke Hill of Grace makes a better red wine reduction than a Jacob’s Creek. Couverture chocolate results in a richer cake than Cadbury’s. The list goes on.
However, veg that is past its prime is still full of nutrients and flavour and is too good to throw into the compost bin. United, we will fight waste.
It is of course best practise not to create limp vegetables in the first place but to eat them at their prime. Sometimes with the best of intentions, this does not happen. Perhaps you are very social an/ or successful in your glamorous job and you travel at the drop of a hat or are invited by clients to the latest theatre production. Whatever the reason, this is where the planet saving master stock comes in to play.
I do not teach this recipe in my classes but do refer to the practise of freezing leftover aromatics, garlic, ginger, chili, coriander etc for curry pastes and leafy greens and other veg for later use in one of several applications. This is one. If you never have limp veg, then please use the gorgeous fresh variety in the following recipe.
Do not use cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts or kale as they tend to add a sulphurous tinge to the stock and if overcooked taint the stock’s overall flavour.
Ask your butcher to reserve some chicken carcasses for you otherwise they tend to end up in the bones’ bin. Shudder. Beef marrow makes a fabulous beef stock. Not quite planet saving but for a fuller stock use a whole beef shin or a whole organic chicken. The silken shin meat can be sliced and is utterly delicious in soups or sandwiches with some tomato jam. You can also cut it into cubes or shred it and add to pasta sauces or shepherd’s pie. The chicken is not quite as robust but can still be added to soups and used in sandwiches. No minerals are destroyed in the cooking process, so nourishment still abounds.
You can use the bones from roasts such as beef ribeye or chicken and BBQs such as TBone or any others that tickle your fancy.
For a richer stock, you can roast your raw bones (beef or chicken but not fish) and vegetables until golden before adding to the stock pot. This additional step results in a sweeter more caramelised flavour and is excellent when a “brown stock” is called for as with French onion soup or Osso Bucco. When making an Asian Pho, raw bones are better as they result in a clear broth (if you follow the rules…)
When making your stock, just cover the ingredients with water, this way your stock will be more concentrated and the flavours fuller. You can always top it up if needed.
Do not stir your stock as it will make it cloudy.
Planet saving Masterstock the recipe
1. Select the base (do not mix chicken with beef)
2kg bones from organic roast chickens or grass fed roast beef
2kg grass fed beef or veal marrow bones +/- 2kg beef/ veal shin, bone in
2kg organic Chicken carcasses, necks, legs &/ or wings +/- large organic chicken (breasts removed)
2. Rinse RAW bones well.
3. Add to the stockpot and cover with cold water.
4. Bring slowly to a simmer.
5. Do not stir.
For a very clear stock, DO STIR Vigorously, discard the first pot of water and start again from step 3.
6. Skim scum form the top of the stock as it forms.
This takes about 15 minutes.
Once scum has stopped forming, go to the next step.
7. Cut veggies into large chunks.
Cooking time is slow so the flavours will infuse into the soup (2 - 3cm is fine)
1 leek or onion, ½ small bulb fennel (for chicken/ not beef), 1 carrot, 2 stalks celery, 1 tomato, 1 - 2 bay leaves, 2 cloves garlic, few sprigs parsley, sprig thyme
Double the quantity if you are using bones and shin or chicken to make a bigger stock.
8. Add vegetables, aromatics & a pinch of salt.
Do not stir.
9. Add a little more water if needed.
10. Simmer chicken for 3 hours.
11. Simmer beef for 4 - 5 hours.
12. Gently ladle or strain the stock. Easiest in 2 steps.
i.Strain through a large colander to catch the bones.
ii. Strain through a muslin lined sieve to remove impurities
If you wan the stock to be super clear, ladle the stock from around the bones.
13. Transfer to a storage containers and freeze keeping a litre at least for your master stock base.
MASTER STOCK MUST BE SIMMERED EVERY 3 DAYS FOR 30 MINUTES.
Use it or lose it. You must feed and tend your master stock, a little like a sourdough starter or those cute little piffles on Club Penguin...
Add stock to gravies, braises, casseroles and soups.
You can use this stock base to blanch veggies such as peas, carrots and beans.
Water used to steam veggies can be added to it.
Carrot peel, parsley stems, onion halves, shallots etc can all pop in for a swim on their way to the bin (do you like that?) I had to leave out the compost in bin coz it did not sound right!
Any limp veg, can pass through the stock on their way to the compost.
Raw or roast chicken or beef bones can also be added, but remember to stick to your original base. You’ll need to simmer for at least an hour, or 2 for raw, when adding bones.
Use it. Love it. Tend it. Little steps towards saving the planet.