With some wintry nights still ahead of us, you can easily turn stock into a handsome profit. Make that soup.
The ingredients of a good soup can do more to heat your bones than a sweater or a cozy fire. Well, almost. Just put the three together and you have the perfect remedy to apply on any sub-freezing night.It's sort of the modern-day version of a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou. Call it a bowl of soup, a skein of wool and glow.
Stock, be it chicken, beef or fish, is one of the most frugal things you can prepare. It gives you something to do with a whole bunch of things that you otherwise would just throw away.
Bones, chicken skin, fish heads, shrimp shells, the green part of leeks or green onions, the leaves of celery, the peelings of carrots may be garbage to many, but to the frugal cook they are flavor for a wholesome stock. Save them.
Almost every time we fix chicken, we remove all the inedible and near edible parts (bones and skin) and make some stock to put in the freezer. Or if you're stewing a whole bird, you don't have to remove anything. We fixed a stewing chicken recently. Afterward, we had a tasty meal of chicken and dumplings and about two quarts of stock in the freezer.
We package our stock in containers of different sizes, so when we have a recipe calling for one cup, two cups or four cups of stock, we can pull the proper amount from the freezer. The microwave does a speedy job of thawing.
We don't make a fish or beef stock every time we serve these entrees - there's generally not enough bones from just one meal - but we do put the bones in the freezer for future use.
We've been buying a lot of cheap lamb and veal cuts and removing the bones before fixing the meat with recipes for more expensive cuts. We save the bones.
Same when we bone a leg of lamb. Of course, ham bones are the base for many good soups. It's not a bad idea to have containers marked beef, fish or chicken tucked in the corner of the freezer to keep these bones.
A good soup requires a good stock. You can use the bouillon cubes or granules for flavoring, but the result will never be more than a B-minus. For an A, fix the stock yourself.
Bones and skin off 2 whole chicken breasts
1 quart water
Green part of one large leek (or cut up a small onion)
Leaves from celery
1 carrot, cut up
6 or 8 peppercorns
A couple sprigs of parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and let simmer for 2 hours. Strain the stock and discard the solid parts. Let the stock cool. The fat will rise to the top. Spoon this off.
About 4 pounds bones, beef, lamb and/or veal
1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil (if bones do not have much fat on them)
2 onions, quartered (no need to peel)
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup red wine (optional: beef broth, bouillon or additional water)
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons tomato paste (or 4 or 5 stewed tomatoes, cut up)
Water Put the bones, oil, onions and carrot in a large kettle. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until bones are browned, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the wine/optional liquid, peppercorns, garlic, salt and tomato paste. Mix well. Cover with about 3 quarts water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
Strain well. Cool and skim off any fat. You'll have about 3 quarts of stock.
3 or 4 pounds fish bones and trimmings, including the heads
2 quarts water
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup dry, white wine (optional: white grape juice or additional water)
Several sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 or 8 peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt Put everything in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir a couple of times during the cooking. Strain the liquid well, preferably through cheesecloth.