Monday, October 7, 2013

"Mmmmm, soup!"

Chicken bones. They’re something that’s easy to disregard and throw out. But there’s also more to get out of them, even when viable meat has been taken off and used up. My mom used to freeze them until she had enough to make chicken stock, and I routinely do that too. The challenge then is to make sure you use ‘em instead of letting them accumulate in corners of the freezer, but usually I keep tabs on them and convert them into stock before they take up too much room. Usually.

It’s pretty easy to do. You need a few vegetables.

Carrots, celery, onion, garlic, some herbs if you have them. Some chunks of ginger can also be good but it’s not necessary. Scrub or peel the vegetables as applicable, chop them into chunks and put them in as large a pot as you’ve got. Put the chicken bones in. If you have whole carcasses from roast chicken take out any lemons or other citrus you might’ve put in the cavity. But you can leave any onions or herbs that roasted with the chicken in the stock pot.

Cover with water, add some peppercorns and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil simmer partially covered, stirring every once in a while. I simmer it for about 4 hours.

Put a big bowl into a roasting pan. Strain the stock in the bowl and put some ice in the roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water. This will cool off the stock quicker. Then put the stock in the fridge overnight. You can skim off the fat that rises to the top the next day and toss that. Then you can freeze any stock you don’t immediately use in Tupperware containers. You could also freeze some of it in ice cube trays, then empty the stock cubes into Ziploc bags that’ll stay in the freezer.

The stock is good to have on hand for a quick miso soup, making a dinner soup like split pea (I uses this recipe and add ham hocks or smoked turkey legs) or minestrone, as well as for risotto, which I love.

I froze most of mine and then used a couple cups to make this tomato soup recipe (one of our go-to recipes every fall) with the last batch of tomatoes I got off of our plants. It’s pretty damn easy.

2 cups of stock, 4 pounds of tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil.

Chop it all up, put into a pot with some salt and pepper, simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Then strain it into a large bowl. I do it using a strainer instead of a food mill, but the food mill would probably work pretty well. I let it sit for a bit, poking at it and making sure as much of the tomato and carrot puree gets through as possible, scraping the bottom of the strainer into the soup in the bowl below.

You can serve it heated up with or without the cream that makes it cream of tomato soup. And as the link states, it’s amazing with grilled cheese sandwiches (which I sometimes put a thin layer of tomato jam on).

And now the inspiration of the blog title which has almost nothing to do at all with soup: