There is nothing like the comforting steam rising from a warm bowl of nutritious soup. Making a large pot of homemade soup or stew is a great way to utilize leftovers and to extend the menu plan without extra spending. The added bonus is one can easily freeze soup or stew in portioned sizes for future meals. It is nice to have options in the freezer from split pea to ham and barley, borscht or tomato soup – being able to choose what is desired at the time; just thaw, heat up on the stove and serve.
Frugal shoppers are fully aware that store-bought stock or broth can be pretty pricey: $3 (or more) for only 3-4 c. of stock. An alternative is the powder or cubed stocks laden with colouring, additives and salt. Surprisingly, it is very easy to make your own nutritious beef, chicken, ham or vegetable stock.
Keep a large container ready to collect clean, disease-free vegetable peels, cores and trimmings. Add the inner onion or garlic peels, as well as any herb branches, meat bones and any water reserved from steaming or boiling vegetables.
Place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. After 1/2 an hour or so, turn off the heat and keep the covered pot on the burner, utilizing the heat still in the burner, until it has cooled. Pour through a fine strainer, measure and freeze in 2-4 c. containers. Or, store in the fridge for up to a week. Having pre-measured amounts in the freezer makes it very handy for future meals.
If you want a very clear broth, simply strain a second time but line the strainer with paper towel or a paper coffee filter and be sure to pour slowly.
We have so many uses for stock in our house besides just soups and stews. We use it in place of oil in our stir-fry dishes and to cook beans and grains in. We have even used it to make our dogs’ meals tastier.
You might be surprised the difference in flavour that homemade stock brings to any meal. The volume of organic waste your kitchen produces is not only reduced, but the cooked mush now takes very little time to compost. You have saved your family money by eliminating the need to buy salty, packaged broth or stock and you have increased the nutrient content in the family diet.