This might be the first time I’ve looked at the calendar with dismay thinking winter will soon be over. The Urban Farmer and I have embraced hibernation so well this winter, I’m not quite ready to emerge from our reclusive grizzly bear state. Granted, we live in a city that continues to nestle under a deep blanket of white through March, so winter’s exit is not as imminent as the calendar might lead us to believe. In the spirit of gratefulness for the here and now, I’m going to share a few soup posts before the sun kisses my bare shoulders (once it does, I’m sure I’ll be singing the sun’s praises from the rooftop), but first, let’s discuss a soup fundamental- stock.
On one particularly wintry weekend, the Urban Farmer and I trekked, through a white-out, to the butcher shop. We bought a local chicken, which the little one carried in her backpack and earned her adventure dog spots. One roast later, we were left with the carcass and visions of soup.
I knew this chicken carcass could find new life in the form of stock, but unlike my mother and grandmother who surely made stock without a second thought, I wasn’t 100% sure how that transformation occurred. I consulted a trusty cookbook just in case. I figured if I had some doubts, I might be able to help a few of you move past your own hesitations and adopt this process. There are several benefits to making stock yourself.
Benefits of Homemade Stock
- Making stock from the ends of vegetables and the remnants of your roasts means you’ll eke out more utility from your purchases. Waste not, want not, remember?
You’ll trust the integrity of your stock, knowing you’ve used the best local and organic ingredients. Avoid the extras a tetra pack has to include for shelf life.
Flavor! Making your own stock yields more flavor, and you can tweak according to your preferences.
How To Make Homemade Stock
For this version, I filled my crockpot with the carcass from a roasted chicken, which still had an herb bundle inside it. I happened to have a lot of veggies leftover from a photoshoot, so I added LOTS of chopped celery, scallions, and green peppers, as well as a dash of dried herbs, salt and pepper. If you’re not swimming in vegetables, you can store the ends of carrots, onions, beet greens, etc in the freezer as you cook them for other dishes.
Once your freezer stash is sufficient, add those to your crockpot or a large pot on the stovetop. Cover with water. For the crockpot method, I let the mixture slow cook for the day, then strained and stored the liquid. For the stovetop method, bring ingredients and water to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or so. If you’re not using your stock immediately, you can freeze it in small portions, making it easier to thaw and use on a recipe by recipe basis.
For a vegetarian version, skip the meat and simmer a variety of vegetables.
What do you think? Doable? Ready to try it?
Stay tuned for my upcoming soup posts and my last winter hurrahs.