It's true....I'm big on soups. There's no denying. Though I only have roughly 5 soup recipes, I sure do love each one of them. I've come to realize that one major aspect of soup making that I've come to respect greatly and consider to be ESSENTIAL to a good soup is SOUP STOCK!!
Believe it or not my modern friendly followers, stock making consists of more than simply dropping a cube of bullion into a pot of boiling water. For shame! Of course I'm dreadfully guilty of doing this! But the difference between using bullion or even canned broth is equivalent of using margarine instead of butter, powdered milk instead of fresh or, God Forbid, freeze-dried mashed potato flakes instead of doing it yourself. EWWWWWWW!!!
If you're a long-time reader you might remember my midevial chicken salad in which I made a fantastic stock to to boil down 2 whole chickens & then soak them in a citrus & spiced vinaigrette for a day to make an unbelievable chicken salad. I agree those were rather elaborate preparations for a chicken salad that I only got to nibble on, but I felt like a winner taking home roughly a gallon of superb chicken stock. So, lets talk about the basics of soup stocks.
Basically what you're looking for is a base to build the rest of your soup flavors on. And for the most part using chicken in your stock is a pretty safe flavor for any soup including heavier stews if you're inclined. Or if you're a vegan then you can even make yourself a veggie broth easily too.
Now I'm not even sure why I'm making a whole post out of this because it's so straightforward. Basically you want a chicken carcass or bones (easy way to make use of whole turkey/chicken left overs). Here in Japan they sell for fairly cheaply a carved out chicken for roughly 100Y more or less. You might also be able to find chicken wing tips cheaply which are really good to use too. Basically you want BONE if you want to make a good chicken stock.
Next you're gonna add veggies. Some of the basics you want to add are onion, carrot, celery. Garlic, of course; but go easy on garlic cuz' you don't want to overpower it. Chop everything roughly.
So for a 6 qt pot full I'd add about:
- 2 onions
- 3-4 carrots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3-4 sticks of celery (leaves & all)
Now if you're making a vegetable broth you can really rock out with the vegetables & you'll want to use a LOT because the flavors are much more soft & subtle in flavor than chicken. Carrots give your stock a sweet flavor so be sure to add them. Soup stock is a great way to use older veggies that you wouldn't want to put upfront but they still have some "life" left. Don't be afraid to use negi too, the "Japanese" taste blends away into the stock nicely.
Of course you need to add spices too:
- about 10-20 whole black peppercorns
- 3-4 bay leaves
- if you have fresh herbs you can get real groovy & make a little bouquet de garni & tie it all up with some string to keep the bits & peices from falling off. I use about 6 or 7 sprigs of each herb. Herbs like: thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley, & oregano are standard. Fresh basil will go better if you add it at the very end of your simmering as if you put it in at the beginning you'll loose a lot of the flavor.
- If you're using dried herbs go easy as they can be overpowering. A tsp. here & there.
And then we'll just bring it to a boil & let it simmer covered for about 2-3 hours.
A few little extra tricks I like to do are:
- adding white wine (about 1 c or so)
- if you have any Parmesan rind (you know, the hard part that only guests who've drunk too much will attempt to eat from your fridge). Drop a slice in. I think that adds and incredibly romantic aroma to the stock & the times I've gotten rave reviews for a soup (yes, it has happened) have been when I added a Parmesan rind.
- I like to add salt at the end and not too much roughly (and I'm just estimating here) 1 1/2 tsp. I'd flavor it later when I'm making the actual soup.
So of course to finish up, after it's cooled off you'll need to strain it & store it. I save old ice-cream containers or sturdy zip-lock bags. (beware of curious kids who walk around your house with a tack to see "what will happen" when you stab holes in chairs, floaties & zip-lock bags full of your precious soup stock)
What you do with it after that is up to you of course. I've taken to making totally random soups with no rhyme or reason. But the good thing about stock is as long as you have a good BASE you can build your flavors on top of it as simply or complex as you like & you'll have good results.
Case in point. The soup on at the top of the post is one I made for lunch the other day (apparently a lunch a long time ago in my old kitchen, sniff). Chicken Broth, left over roasted red paprika from last night's dinner, left over broken lasagna noodles that I couldn't use for anything else, sugar peas, sliced cabbage, chives, whipped eggs, fresh Italian parsley & olive oil.
Well......that ended up being a long one. Of course the soup stock is just what I do! I'm sure some of you genius' probably have great tips & tricks of which I'd love to hear. Leave any good ideas in the comments, OK??
Ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth! Catch you soon.