Since fall is in full swing now, it’s officially hot soup season! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy soup all year round, but there is something about cooler weather that makes a warm bowl of soup that much more enjoyable. And believe it or not since my last post the weather has finally started to cool down a bit here in Florida. Thank goodness! The day I can wear boots and a sweater I’ll be happy. But for now, I’ve started exploring some soup recipes to get me in the autumn spirit.
The first step to a good soup is the stock. If I’m in a hurry or don’t have the time I usually buy organic veggie stock or broth from the health food store, and that works just fine. However, the stuff is mega expensive (we are talking like $3.80 for one 32 oz. box) and never tastes as delicious and hearty as homemade. Plus, even store-bought organic often contains high sodium or some sort of preservative. Making your own stock is relatively easy, you can control the sodium level, and in the end it’s so much more economical than buying it at the store. It takes a bit of time, but you can make a large batch and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or store it in sealable containers in the freezer for future use.
Veggie stock is versatile, and the saying goes that you can pretty much empty your fridge into a homemade stock. The essential ingredients are carrots, onion and celery, but after that anything goes! I like to throw in a ton of herbs as well to really add different flavor dimensions. You can use fresh herbs or dried, and if you tie them up in cheesecloth or a coffee filter it makes the straining process in the end a whole lot easier.
First step, a good stock pot!
I snagged this gem at Williams Sonoma a couple of years ago. It’s an All-Clad, and it came with a mesh insert that makes straining stock, pasta or veggies so much easier! (It also came with a shorter steam basket that I frequently use for veggies). I love this pot. I got it on sale, and I think I paid around $90 for it, but I use it so often that it has paid for itself with the money I save by making homemade stock.
Next step, raiding your veggie drawer in the fridge. Almost anything goes! I kept things simple because I just went shopping and wanted to save my veggies for throughout the week, so I stuck with onion, carrots, celery, garlic and cabbage.
Homemade Vegetable Stock
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 6 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker simmer soup/stew sauce vegetarian vegan sugar-free soy-free low-carb gluten-free low-sodium low-fat
Ingredients (8 quarts)
- 1/2 med. green cabbage, coarsely chopped
- 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1 lg. sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 6 stalks of celery (including leaves), chopped in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbs. black peppercorns
- 1/2 tbs. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. fennel or anise seed
- 1 tbs. dried basil
- 1 tbs. dried rosemary
- 1 tbs. dried thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt (or less if you want low sodium)
- You can use a bundle of fresh herbs if you prefer
Wash and prep your veggies. Place them in your stockpot (or mesh basket if you have one).
Add bay leaves, peppercorns and coriander seeds.
Spoon herbs into a small piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and tie off with a string. ( You may also do this if you are using fresh herbs so the stock is easier to strain).
Fill stock pot to the top with water, covering the veggies, and add the herb sachet.
Cover stock pot and bring to a boil. Remove lid and continue to boil for about 10 minutes until veggies start to soften. Reduce to a simmer.
Cook stock for 4-6 hours (the longer the better), stirring every hour or so and adding a bit more water halfway though the cooking processes as it evaporates.
When broth is dark and veggies are fully cooked, strain veggies from pot and set aside to cool.
Pour stock into sealable containers and refrigerate or freeze for future use.
Spoon herbs into a small piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and tie off with a string. ( You may also do this if you are using fresh herbs so the stock is easier to strain). I highly recommend not skimping out on the anise seed or fennel. The flavor adds a delicious sweetness to the stock and it really brings it to a whole new level.
You can eat the veggies used to make your stock, as they are packed full of sweet and delicious flavor! I usually spoon them over rice and enjoy for a light dinner. When I make soup I start from scratch with new mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery base) because the veggies used to make the stock are pretty cooked up and softened.
The yield on the stock will depend on the size of stockpot you use, but this recipe made me about 8 quarts of delicious homemade stock. 8 quarts = 8 store-sized boxes x $3.80/box = $30.40– the veggies I used to make this stock cost me less than $8.00 at the farmer’s market, so that’s a huge savings!
Do you guys enjoy making homemade soups during the cooler fall season? What’s your favorite recipe? I need new soup recipes so feel free to share any links!