In the mood for homemade soup? Here's my number one tip: don't waste your cash on expensive, sodium-packed soup stocks you find at the grocery store. Make your very own stock. It's so easy, and I'm going to show you how.
Let's start with a vegetable stock, and in following articles, I'll show you how to add chicken, beef or other ingredients to make variations of this stock recipe.
4 medium-sized onions
5 celery stalks
4 medium-sized carrots
1-2 bay leaves
1 handful fresh parsley
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 handful of salt
What you do:
1. Scrub and chop your vegetables. It's important that you first wash all your veggies with water and a clean vegetable scrubber until any dirt rinses off and the vegetables appear clean. Then, dry them with paper towels and lay them on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, chop your vegetables into large pieces. You want to leave three of the onions whole, but chop one of them. Chop your carrots and celery into large chunks. The pieces do not have to be perfectly chopped.
2. Sauté. In a large soup pot, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil. Turn the heat up to medium-high and sprinkle in one chopped onion. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and allow the onion to "sweat," or release its liquids until it becomes soft. Add one large chopped carrot and one or two chopped celery stalks and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir everything together until the vegetables begin to stick to the pan. When this happens, add about 1/2 cup of water to your pot, then stir again.
3. Immediately add your veggies and water. Add the rest of the vegetables and cover them with water so you can stir everything together nicely in your soup pot. Sprinkle in some black peppercorns, a handful of salt, about 1/2 cup fresh parsley and 1-2 bayleaves. If you have one large bayleaf, that should be enough. The purpose of the bayleaf is to add depth and extra flavor to the stock that you just won't get from salt and pepper alone. Turn the heat up to high, bring everything to a boil, and lower the temperature to medium heat.
4. Leave the stock alone for a while. Put the lid on the pot, keep the heat on medium, and allow everything to meld inside the pot for about an hour. This will help you obtain maximum flavor! Check on the stock every ten minutes or so and give it a stir. You can taste it with a clean spoon each time to see if it needs any more salt or pepper. You will know it is done when the stock turns a pretty yellow "soup" color and tastes like the basis of a typical soup. You will know this when you taste it after about an hour of cooking. Then, you'll turn the heat off and set the stock aside.
You may decide to leave the vegetables in the stock or remove them with a strainer and pour the liquid into a separate pot. When the stock cools, you may transfer it to separate containers. If you'd like, you can freeze the stock and defrost at your convenience. Be sure to use within a few months to ensure maximum freshness and best taste. It's best to put a label with the date you made the stock as a reminder.
You can use your homemade stock not only to make soups, but also to flavor many different dishes without having to use oil. You can use the stock to flavor mashed potatoes or to poach chicken or fish. Be creative and try it in practically any dish!