It’s cold outside, making me want to stay indoors even if the sun teases me to come outside. So, I’ll stay cozy and warm inside and make a big pot of vegetable stock. There’s nothing like a pot of stock bubbling away on the back burner to fill the house with good smells and portend a great soup.
I’ve made it habit of putting all of my vegetable trimmings into a bag in the freezer instead of the compost. Onion and garlic skins, kale and chard ribs, celery and carrot root ends. The only thing I’ve found that doesn’t work well is potato peelings. But sweet potato peelings are a delicious addition. When the bag is full, I put everything into a large pot, toss in a few herbs, and fill it with water to cover the vegetables. One of my secret additions is parmesan rind. My local grocery packages the ends after they cut away the sellable part, and then they are tucked away for sale in the cheese bin. These rinds add a delectable richness to the stock.
I put the pot on a low simmer for several hours. Once cooked and cooled, I strain it into freezer containers and have a delicious base for just about any type of soup.
Because this stock is well-flavored, it easily replaces the chicken stock that so many recipes call for. My stock is never exactly the same because the mix of vegetables changes. Beet and red chard tops make it a rich purple color. But it is always good, and easily adaptable to almost any soup or stew.
Give it a try – it will make your winter days a bit more enjoyable and the sky’s the limit as to the dishes to use it in.
Lentil soup for two
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ c. dried green or brown lentils
1 c. diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 ½ c. stock (homemade if you have it, canned if not)
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Film a heavy-bottomed pan with olive oil and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Saute until soft, about ten minutes. Add the oregano and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the lentils, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
Put about half the soup in a blender and pulse until creamy. Return to the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve drizzled with olive oil, sriracha, harissa or your favorite flavoring. You can also top it with grated cheddar and/or sour cream.
To slow cook, put all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours, until the lentils are tender.
Add 1 T. chiles in adobo and ¼ t. cumin
Add ½ c. homemade or commercial pesto
Add ½ c. finely chopped kimchi
Add any cooked sausage of choice