Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Stock

    This last year I’ve been trying to cut back on how much processed food our family eats and also to save money on groceries.
    And being that I make lots of sous and stews during the months of January and February, I’ve decided to start making my own broth and stock for sous.
    No other ingredient makes as big of a difference in the result of your soup making than its liquid. If the liquid is not very good, even the bst ingredients cannot be enjoyed either.

 

Store Bought Options…Sure, you could buy your broth or stock straight off the grocery store shelf in the standard can or paper container

But making your own is well worth the time…

 

Why?

  • Making your own stock is less expensive.
  • Most store-bought versions contain way too much salt.
  • Most store-bought versions  contain too many preservatives.
  • Most of these contain ingredients that you yourself would never want in your stock in the first lace.

If you do choose to use store-bought stock, you can add more flavor by adding extra meat, herbs, and spices…and then simmer for at least twenty minutes.

 

So now it all comes down to the how…and the how much…

As far as how much, most soups will require about eight cups of stock or broth as the liquid base, or one cup per serving.

There are four basic tyes of stock that should be in your recie reertore…

  • Beef…adds lots of richness to pasta-based soups…Martha Stewart
  • Chicken…your basic stock for almost every recie there is…Simply Recipes
  • Fish…obvious choice for chowders and soups that need extra savory flavor, such as tomato…The Spruce Eats
  • Vegetable…for soups that require some complexity such as curries and for vegetarians…Martha Stewart

Regardless which stock you make, you can always make it and freeze it for later. I like to freeze the stock in old 32-ounce yogurt containers.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Finding the Perfect Pot to Pea In

Before you start making your own homemade soup, there is certain equipment that you must have on hand.

And the most important equipment of all—a big enough pan.

You could find the very best recipe, spend hours making your own stock, buy the best ingredients, take the time to finely dice all of your vegetables exactly the same size, and so forth…

But will all that effort mean one darn thing if you don’t have a big enough pot.

Pots and pans are like bath towels. All of us have them—in various sizes and shapes and colors.

But most of us simply settle for the first towel that we happen to grab we get out of the shower.

How much thought do you put into your bath towels and pots and pans on a daily basis?

But this shouldn’t be the case.

Here is some advice as far as what to look for when finding “the perfect pot to pea in”…

——————-

.Base…The bottom should be heavy in order to keep ingredients at the bottom  from scorching during long cooking..

Handles…There should be two short, sturdy handles that have been bolted on, not simply pressed and adhered on. Remember you’re going to need a “good grip” when you will be picking up a heavy pot with hot liquid.

Height…A pot that is higher than it is wide prevents too much liquid from evaporating.

Lid

  • Glass—Glass lids allow you to see the progress of your stock or soup.
  • Oven Safe—If you plan to use the pot in the oven, be sure your lid and your handles are oven safe.
  • Steaming—Look for a small hole in the glass lid with a grommet.
  • Tight—The lid should fit tightly so that you close the lid and steam properly.

Material

Material is probably the most important thing to consider when buying new pots and pans.

There are several options available, including…

Anodized aluminum…

  • Cost…$125-200
  • Dishwasher Safe…no
  • Example…Calphalon
  • Heats fairly evenly and quickly

Aluminum…

  • Cost…$21 w/o cover
  • Heats quickly

Coated Carbon Steel, enameled…

  • Cost…$80.00
  • Example…Le Creuset
  • Weight…Lightweight

Copper…

  • Dishwasher safe…no, requires constant upkeep
  • Heats rapidly
  • More of a collectible or display item, not very realistic for the real world

Stainless steel…

  • Cost…as low as $10
  • Heats rapidly and evenly
  • Weight..sturdy without being too heavy

Stainless Steel w/ aluminum or copper core base…

  • Cost…around $60
  • Heat…rapid heating thanks to the base of either aluminum or copper surrounded by stainless steel

 

 

Shape…Taller pots allow less water to steam out from the stock, but also consider how much difference in temperature there might be at the bottom of the pot than at the top of the pot.

And if you’re as short as I am, be realistic. Imagine stirring your soup as it cooks and then also picking up and pouring the contents of the pot.

 

Size…The pot should be large enough to hold at least four quarts.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Soup’s On

Now that the Christmas ornaments are all being taken off the tree and the lights are…or not…being taken off the house…it’s time to get back to the real world.

And the real-world responsibility of having to plan and prepare decent meals for our families almost every night of the week.

Having these nightly meals requires planning and thinking ahead…more so when you find our that your significant other has type 2 diabetes…the main thing I have learned this last year.

Fortunately this is also the time of year for one of my favorite things…

SOUP…

Soup is definitely the ultimate comfort food—both nourishing and warming to the body as well as the soul.

And soup can be made so many different ways—such as chicken noodle soup, vegetable beef stew, clam chowder—to name a few.

Regardless the type of being made, there are certain things to keep in mind as you add soup to your menu plan this winter…certain things that will always remain the same regardless the type of soup being made.

Soup is great this time of year also because as a chef, or at least as a cook, you can easily transform practically any ingredient into a delicious, satisfying meal that will allow to use  whatever ingredients you already have on hand and not have to get back in the cold now that the holidays are over.

In this next series of posts, we’ll look at the ingredients and method used to make a great pot of soup…much better soup than anything you could ever get out of a can or a box…