Save your veggie scraps and make a soup stock - frugal and flavorful!
There is nothing quite like good soup stock. When I first learned how to make a proper stock, it was a turning point in my culinary journey. That one skill transformed my bland attempts at soup into pleasurable experiences and lifted my rice and risotto game to a new level.
Another skill that I value in the kitchen is frugality. I hate wasting food! I blame my Memaw, the Queen of Leftovers. Each night, she would put every bit of food left on my dinner plate into a tiny container in the fridge, and I knew that it would reappear as part of the next day’s lunch.
One day, while doing prep work in the kitchen, I looked at the pile of papery garlic skin and purple onion skin before me and wondered if they could still be used. I could always add them to the compost pile, but could they be used for anything else first? What about carrot peels and cut-off ends, slightly wilted celery, or mushroom stems? It seemed wasteful to compost an edible bit of food.
So now I use the scraps! While doing food prep, I add the still-edible things to a gallon baggie and toss them in the freezer when I’m done. It’s just so easy! Add almost any herbs and veggie scraps to the bag and toss them into the pot the next time you need a quick veggie stock.
You can also add meat scraps to your freezer bag, like bones, fat, and gristly bits. They’ll lend flavor, fats, and nutrients to whatever soup they become.
Mind you, do not save anything moldy, rotten, or otherwise gross. If you use veggie peels, make sure they are well-scrubbed first.
Scraps to Save for Stock
Garlic: dried cloves, papery peels, green sprouts
Onion: peels, sprouts, the slightly wilted slice on the end
Ginger: hard peels or tough, woody ginger can still make a flavorful tea or broth
Mushrooms: save those clean stems and slices
Herbs: stems from basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, or other edible herbs. I sometimes add nettles, dandelion root, and other nutritious herbs to stocks and broths.
Meat: trimmed pieces of raw meat
Fat: nice fat trimmed from beef, pork, chicken, game, or turkey.
Bones: bones from turkey, chicken, thigh bones, or cut out of pork chops. Add a splash of vinegar to get more out of the bones.
Scraps to Avoid Using for Stock
Sweet potatoes and potatoes: these don’t add much flavor, and mostly contribute starch. Save them for making potato soup.
Beets: can overwhelm the flavor and turn the broth red.
Green Beans: simmer them too long and they go bitter.
How to make soup stock from scraps:
Open your freezer and pull out the bag of scraps that you’ve been saving.
Dump the scraps into a pot and add about two cups of water.
Turn the stove on to medium heat and let it start to get warm. Use a wooden spoon to break up the scraps as they thaw in the warmth and push them into the water.
This is the time when you might want to add some dried herbs – nettles, oatstraw, dulse, kombu, or anything that has a high nutritive or mineral content. Add a splash of herbal vinegar if you have some!
Once the pot of scraps is bubbling, add a lid and turn it to a low simmer. Let it simmer as long as you like, but a minimum of an hour is advised, especially if there are bones in your scraps.
Strain out the scraps – if it is just veggies and herbs, you can add them to your compost. Don’t put meat scraps or bones in your garden compost, just discard them.
Add salt, pepper, or other seasonings as needed, and enjoy your stock. Use it right away or let it cool and jar it up. You can keep it in the fridge and use it within a few days or freeze it for up to a few months.
References & Resources:
Broth Recipes from The Herbal Academy