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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Stocking Up For The Winter

Dump, drench, bubble and strain, sounds like a recipe that witches might chant over a hot cauldron.  It is in fact, a little rhyme I came up with to help people remember how to make their own vegetable stock.  When a recipe or technique is committed to memory, one is likely to make it more often. 

Today I am outlining a quick and easy method of making homemade vegetable stock that I have learned cooking in the Taste and Savor kitchen with Chef Nancy.  We make fresh stock on a weekly basis in the healthy kitchen.  A good stock is the building block for great soups and stews.  I made a black bean soup last week for a luncheon at the Cancer Wellness Center, using some of our signature vegetable stock.   I was delighted when a diner (who shall remain nameless), declared my creation to be the best black bean soup they had ever eaten.  Nothing like a sincere compliment to motivate recipe testing and sharing.  Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to work on tightening up my black bean soup recipe so that I can share it with my readers.

As I stated earlier, a good vegetable stock is the basis for a great soup.  I have no doubt that this foolproof method for making vegetable stock is part of what made my black bean soup so tasty.  The method is simple and should become second nature to you once you get into the habit of "recycling" your vegetable scraps that might otherwise have ended up in the trash.

To begin,  you will need a gallon size zip top bag.  Mark the bag with the date you start adding to it.  As you cook, save all the bits and pieces of vegetables that you would normally throw away.  This can include, but is not limited to, the following: carrot peels, pepper ribs and stem, potato peels, celery leaves, kale ribs, garlic paper and onion skin.  It is of up most importance that every stock bag you make contain some onion skin.  It makes no difference if the skin is from a red or yellow onion, you just want some type of onion skin in the mix, as it is what will add the beautiful color to the stock. Another key thing to remember is to use a variety of vegetables in your bag.  This will help to make a more flavorful and well rounded stock. Store the bag in the freezer between cooking sessions and add to it until you have a full bag.  Once the bag full, you are ready to make stock.  Here we go....


Save your vegetable scraps. Once you have filled up a one gallon zip top bag, you are ready to make stock.

Step One: DUMP the contents of your freezer bag into a large stock pot.

DUMP your vegetable scraps into a large stockpot

Step Two:  DRENCH your vegetable scraps with eight cups of water.  It is important to add just enough cold water to cover the vegetables.  This amount may vary slightly depending on how dense your particular bag of vegetables is.  Do not add an excess amount of water or your stock with be thin and not concentrated enough.
DRENCH your veggies with about 8 cups of cold water

Step Three:  BUBBLE, i.e. bring the liquid to a rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least thirty minutes.
BUBBLE your vegetables for 30 minutes

In only thirty minutes, the contents of your stock pot will resemble the photograph below.  In this short amount of time, the vegetable scraps have cooked down and a beautiful stock has formed.

This is what the pot looks like after thirty minutes of bubbling away

Step Four:  STRAIN the contents of your pot through a colander and collect the broth in a large bowl.  I ended up with just about five cups of gorgeous stock.

The finished product!
Your finished stock is now ready to be used immediately, refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for later use.

Stay tuned to The Passionate Plate for my black bean soup recipe, and in the meantime, remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.


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