The Stock Makes the Soup

To celebrate the first day of October and to ward off my hubby bunny’s contagious cold, I made an enormous pot of vegetable soup today. I love making vegetable soup: I love how the whole apartment smells rich and earthy, I love enjoying a hot steaming bowl of healthy goodness when I come in from a cold day, and I especially love running the immersion blender on high speed. Vrrrrroooommmm!

There is one and only one key to a truly delicious vegetable soup: homemade vegetable stock. It has to be homemade. Period. There is just no excuse for powdered bouillon cubes. If you’re not going to make your own soup stock, just go buy a can of Campbell’s.

Here’s what was in mine: 2 carrots, 2 onions, 1/4 celery (-root, in this case), 1 leek, one bunch of parsley, a bay leaf or two, and about 10-15 black peppercorns. Sometimes mushrooms are really lovely too; this produces a dark “meaty” soup stock. A can of tomatoes is also nice, for example for minestrone. Just stay away from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts & co.) – you don’t want all that sulphur in your stock. You can also be creative with the herbs and try a dash of thyme or even a small sprig of rosemary. Just keep your final soup in mind when deciding how to flavour the stock: a delicate soup deserves a delicate stock, and a robust soup… etc.

The beauty of this stock is that you don’t need to bother with a beautiful, even dice: just hack your veggies into chunks and toss them in the pot. I don’t even peel my onions, and if the carrots are organic I just wash them and throw them in.

Now, are you listening? Because this is critical: do NOT boil your stock vegetables, or they will get bitter. You want an extremely slooow, low simmer for at least an hour. The results will not be pretty – you will end up with what looks like chunky grey cabbage water –  but the stock should already smell delicious. Pour through a fine sieve and either use immediately or freeze for later use.

Stock can be used for literally anything. This past week I made a simple curried carrot lentil soup, and today I made a simple chunky vegetable soup with whole wheat spelt noodles. Just the thing for an October weekend!

1. The world’s easiest carrot-lentil-curry soup:

2. Chunky vegetable soup with whole wheat soup noodles and chickpeas:

Ah – just the thing for fall. 🙂

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