Summer is the time to “Stock Up”

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Summer is the time to “Stock Up”

With summer quickly approaching, our lives are filled with family activities, laughter, and making memories. Dinner time is a great time to reconnect as a family after a day of activities. I used to think of soup as a winter or cold weather meal. Soup is one of the most comforting foods to the soul. This past year, I made a goal to master soups. My soups were always too thick, no flavor, or just a plain flop.

After doing a lot of research and studying and plain pondering over recipes, I found that a good soup starts with a good foundation. This foundation is stock or broth. I use the best ingredients available and love the mixture of slow cooked vegetables, herbs, and seasonings that blend flavors into rich chicken stock or vegetable broth. Traditionally a stock uses bones and broth does not, but I will use the terms interchangeably.

Delicious vegetable soups will spotlight your garden harvest. What a great application of sustainable living as well as sharing with our children and grandchildren where our food comes from. Last summer, I was invited to dinner with some dear friends and we had stew and home cooked bread on the patio as sun was starting to set. Again, that stew was a comfort food and I hope that as you try soups even in the summer, you will have that comfort and hygge feeling that brings contentment and happiness to your soul. With the stock that I am going to share with you, just yesterday I made a chicken noodle soup along with home baked bread and a fresh salad that created a wonderful luncheon memory with my mother. Make a memory that will last a lifetime. Soups warm not only your tummy but your heart and soul.

Rich Homemade Chicken Stock
(Makes 16-17 cups of stock)

• 1 4-pound chicken, thawed and cleaned
• 3 carrots cut into 2 inch pieces
• 3 stalks celery cut into 2 inch pieces
• 1 small onion, peeled and cut into eighths
• 6 sprigs fresh parsley
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
• 20 whole peppercorns
• 20 cups of water

HINT: If I am making this and short of fresh herbs, I will use dried or ground. The broth or stock will have a darker color but the flavor is delicious when using dried herbs in a pinch.

Instructions:

1. Place chicken, carrot, celery, onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and peppercorns in a large stockpot. Add water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Skim any foam and fat that rises to the surface. Simmer for 4 hours.
2. Place a colander over a large bowl and strain the stock, pressing on the solids to release as much liquid as possible.
3. If not using immediately, cool the stock by pouring (with a funnel) into a large mason jar and cool in the refrigerator. Use a spoon to remove the congealed far from the surface of the chilled stock, then store in an airtight container. This will keep in the fridge for 1 week or freeze for make ahead soups up to 3 month. Debone the chicken and save in an airtight container to add to chicken soups, chicken salads or any other one of your favorite chicken recipes.
I find that I make a batch of stock each week, then I make a couple pots of soup and they are quick, healthy, go to meals that are packed with goodness and nutrition.

Simple Vegetable Broth
(Makes about 12 cups)

• 8 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
• 2 large onions peeled and cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks
• 6 stalks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
• 2 parsnips cut into 2 inch pieces
• 4 small potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks
• 1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
• 4 teaspoons fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons REAL salt or more to taste
• 20 whole black peppercorns
• 16 cups water

Instructions:

1. Place all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 2 hours.
2. Strain the broth through a colander, then once more through a fine sieve. Store in sealed containers and use within 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.
What to do with extra broth or stock?
• Use instead of water to cook whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, or barley
• Moisten leftovers before reheating or use to make a savory bread pudding
• Swap for water when steaming vegetables
• Mash into potatoes instead of cream
• Deglaze pans with a bit of broth instead of wine
• Make gravy. Combine broth and flour ( I like to use barley flour) and whisk into your pan of drippings. If not using drippings, make a stand alone gravy and use for biscuits.

Here are some fun suggestions to change up a chicken soup!! I like to cook my noodles separately and put them in the bowl first and then cover with the soup. Noodles don’t get soggy. Enjoy!!

How to Create the Perfect Chicken or Vegetable Soup
1. Lay the base. Determine what spices and seasonings you are going to use. Spices cooked in oil bring out their best flavor. Heat 2 T. of olive in a large pot over medium heat; add 1 cup chopped onion and 2 large minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 to 4 tsp of seasonings. Cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes more.
2. Add broth of choice
3. Load up with vegetables. Use vegetables out of the garden, or the highest quality you can find (fresh or frozen)
4. Bump up the fiber – Add 3 cups whole grains or noodles or 1 ½ cups cooked beans. I like to cook these on the side and then add to my bowl before adding the rest. If the entire pot of soup will be eaten at one meal, add the grains, noodles, or beans and heat through just prior to serving.
5. Just before serving, add a pop or flavor with fresh herbs or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
Enjoy the classic soup and add your own personality to create your signature chicken or vegetable soup.

Source: Eating Well

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