Nothing warms the body and soul more than a good soup on a chilly fall evening or a cold winter’s day and it is one dish that is sure to entice your little goblins to the table. We don’t see many chilly evenings here is South Florida, but I definitely grew to appreciate the artful delights of home made soup while living in Wisconsin. With a wind chill of 25 below zero and several feet of snow pushed along the roadside, soup was not just a meal but a welcome luxury with an aroma that seemed to carry miles across the frozen ground.
Everyone knows that the basis of a good pot of soup is the stock that is used. With groceries at an all time high, it is more economical just to make your own. Not only is it cheap and easy, it gives you more control over what your family is eating. Your beautiful stock will be made from natural, wholesome ingredients with no food coloring, no additives, and without excessive sodium. If you are like me, your friends and family will be amazed at your thriftiness (Really? You made this from all your vegetable trimmings that you normally would just have wasted and thrown in the trash? Amazing and so smart!), and you will revel in the fact that you have saved so much and that it tastes so fresh and rich.
Stems and Seeds No-Waste Vegetable Stock
Find an appropriate storage container that is airtight and fits easily into your refrigerator – I like to use gallon storage bags. At every meal you prepare, save your vegetable and herb trimmings, meaning everything you would normally discard like stems, seeds, ends, tops, and peals. Stems from leafy greens and tops from carrots and celery along with onion, potato, and carrot peals are core ingredients for a rich broth. Avoid any bitter trimmings such as broccoli or cauliflower stems, cabbage, or brussel sprouts as they will give your broth an unpleasant, pungent taste.
When your storage container is full, it’s time to make your stock. For me, the best way to cook vegetable stock is by using a slow cooker/crockpot. This minimizes the heat in the kitchen and allows you to not be chained to your kitchen all day. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can most certainly simmer the stock on your kitchen stove.
Place your trimmings in the slow cooker but first take a careful look through your container to make sure nothing has gone bad. If you don’t consume as many vegetables as my family, store your trimmings in the freezer instead. It usually only takes me 5 days or so to have enough for stock so I don’t have spoilage issues.
Add any herbs that you would like to flavor your stock. I usually throw in a few cloves of garlic, some bay leaves, and whatever fresh herbs I have growing. For this batch, I cut a few pieces of rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil.
Cover trimmings with hot water and set your slow cooker to high. Let stock simmer for at least 4 hours.
Salt and season to taste.
Let cool and drain through a colander into a large bowl.
Store fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze in portioned amounts for up to 6 months.
Use your rich, delicious, economical, and organic vegetable stock in anything and everything.