LEAVES TURNING, NEW snow on the mountains and the short days of winter on their way.
My advice to you: Go outside every chance you get and be prepared to make soup.
That might sound like an oxymoron if you think making a slow stew will tie you to the stove all day.
Not so. Simmering a soup is a simple affair, freeing you up for daylight adventure.
Throughout the years, I have shared a variety of soup recipes from borscht to butternut but have not yet written about the importance of broth.
Broth, or stock as it is also called, is a foundational ingredient to most any savory recipe.
You can make it strictly vegetarian or with chicken, pork, beef or fish.
When a recipe calls for stock, the easiest thing to do is purchase a can or a box of pre-made stock off the shelf, or even dissolve a bouillon cube.
But making your own is cheaper, more nourishing and delicious.
I realize that suggesting cookbooks is rather old fashioned in the digital age where you can type “broth recipes” into your browser and find a world of information for free.
That said, there is nothing like a dog-eared, kitchen-stained book stuffed with notes and stray recipes.
If you are into books like I am, here are the two I use for broths.
Sally Fallon Morell’s classic cookbook “Nourishing Traditions” has a very good chapter on making and using various types of meat and bone broths.
Morell is a proponent of overnight simmers to bring out the collagen and minerals contained in animal bones as a nutritional powerhouse.
The resulting broths add a rich and deeply satisfying taste to any dish.
For vegetarian cooking, I turn to Deborah Madison’s book, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.”
Madison’s chapter on vegetable stock drills down into a wide variety of vegetables and how they interact to create distinct flavor.
There isn’t room in this column to do justice to this topic, but fortunately the process of stock making is consistent regardless of what particular ingredients you use.
The recipes above are boiled down from years of personal use.
You will notice that I don’t include seasonings, not even salt.
I typically make my broths neutral in flavor so that I can use them as an ingredient in any recipe without altering the particular flavor of that dish.
For example, these broths can be used in a curry just as easily as they can be used in braised Brussels sprouts.
If you enjoy a cup of hot broth as an afternoon lift, by all means add in your choice.
Start with the remains of a whole roasted chicken (one you roasted or brought home from the grocery store just in time for dinner). As you are cleaning up the dishes, rather than toss those bones in the trash, load them into a heavy bottom pot or slow cooker.
Add some aromatic veggies including:
1 onion, peeled and quartered
Other root vegetables such as parsnip, celery, garlic, carrot, celeriac totaling about another 1-2 cups
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or pickle brine (helps to release minerals from the bones and vegetables)
2-3 quarts of water (or enough to fill the pot)
Simmer for at least 1-2 hours, and if you want to maximize the nutritional value of the broth simmer for 6-8 hours.
I typically leave the broth to simmer overnight in a crockpot or Instapot.
In the morning, allow the broth cool, then strain broth from the solids and refrigerate.
When broth is chilled, skim the fat layer from the surface if desired.
In Jewish cooking, that fat layer is called schmaltz and can be used as a replacement for butter or shortening in savory recipes.
Saute 3-4 cups of vegetable matter in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes. Add as water and simmer for 45 minutes or so.
After the simmer, cool the broth, strain and chill.
Unlike meat and bone broths, for vegetable broths, there is no value in long simmers. In fact some green vegetables can turn bitter when over cooked.
Vegetables can be slightly past their prime but not discolored and definitely not (dare I say) slimy.
This weekend I made a wonderful broth using: 2 tiny carrots and their tops, ½ onion leftover from another day, a leek including its carefully washed roots, a few cherry tomatoes, celery leaves and a couple of stray cloves of unpeeled garlic.
I will have it in the fridge for the week to add whenever a recipe calls for water or stock.
Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at email@example.com.