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e_moon60

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Soup (again) [Oct. 15th, 2010|03:48 pm]
e_moon60
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Since a lot of what I cook is soup, this is yet another paeon to the Season of Soup (when it's not too hot to turn the stove on, in other words.)

There's really no secret to making good soup.   You put enough things that have a lot of flavor into a pot--things that have a lot of flavors that don't clash also helps--and you cook them to the point where the flavors suddenly go "Oh!":   It helps to start with good stock.  (I saw a TV cooking show once that suggested ways to make store-bought chicken stock taste better.  Um...by the time you've made store-bought chicken stock taste better--and their way involved *wasting* a pound of ground chicken by throwing it away after using it--you could just make your own chicken stock which would be better anyway.)   

Stock-making takes awhile, but most of it is spent walking through the kitchen and sniffing appreciatively as the stock develops.   Depending on your family background, you may already have made stock for years, but if you've never seen the process...it's not hard, just (in places) tedious.   My stock recipe basically the same for both chicken stock (except for using chicken bones & meat) and beef stock (except for using beef bones & meat.)  If you  have the freezer space you can make a boatload of stock at once and make it only every now and then.   Celery, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley, bay leaf (plural usually), rosemary, sage, thyme & any other herbs you want go in with the bones & meat.   I usually roast the beef bones first, but it's a choice, not a law.  So a set of vegetation goes in with bones & meat, and cooks until the bones are dry-white looking and the vegetation is a limp mess.  Fish out the bones, the vegetation and discard into the appropriate setting.  Fish out any meat and immediately chill for later cutting into chunks.  Continue to simmer the resulting liquid until it's a nice, rich color (golden or brown).  Transfer to smaller pot and chill overnight.  This makes lifting off the fat easy.   Some people filter the stock to make it perfectly clear.  I like mine more opaque.  It's a choice.

You can make soup with just water + whatever's in the soup, but stock gives you a head start--it's got some flavor, some essences of what went into it.   Without stock, you might use bouillon cubes (not for people with high BP--too salty) or demi-glace to give your soup some body.    Soup, like bread, is a very basic food, and pretty forgiving (esp. in large batches) as long as there's enough flavor elements  in the pot.  You can almost always add more.  (Though my earliest "making soup at home" memory was of my mother salvaging vegetables in the face of the Big Freeze in the early '50s, when she started with one pot, moved to a larger one, moved to her largest cooking pot, and finally used a washing machine tub, balanced across the burners.  So if you start a soup in a two-quart saucepan, watch out...it might grow if you start making adjustments.) 






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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-15 09:14 pm (UTC)
We used to save chicken backs and wings and necks for soup. (Not stock--soup.)

I don't consider it "wasting good chicken meat to make stock" if the meat is used. My mother would take a stewing hen, for instance (I don't know if anyone sells stewing hens anymore, but when we had chickens we sure did) that was too old and tough to make a good frying or even roasting chicken, to make stock, and then package the meat.

But that's a matter of preference.
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[User Picture]From: alicephilippa
2010-10-15 09:18 pm (UTC)
One of the butchers I use is quite happy to give me a bag full of chicken carcases for stock making, free.

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[User Picture]From: wldrose
2010-10-15 09:26 pm (UTC)
lucky you

one of the gourmet market gives ham bones at a buck each for soup and if I lucky they can have up to a lb of meat still on the bone.

ash
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-15 11:46 pm (UTC)
Back when I was a kid, the butcher at the nearest grocery store would give people "dog bones" for free, knowing darn good and well that quite a few people made soup out of them, including us.
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[User Picture]From: wldrose
2010-10-15 09:24 pm (UTC)
Bay is one of those things that it took me years to think it was worth it i cant tell you what it is but it makes a difference stock made with out it tastes well empty

ash
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2010-10-15 11:59 pm (UTC)
I discovered that trick a couple of years ago. I wish I'd known about it earlier.

1) roast a chicken, with veggies; have roast chicken for 1 meal. I use a big roasting pan and pop the lid on after the first 15 minutes because I like to do this a lot and I hate cleaning the oven. The chicken comes out lovely and moist, and if it's too pale I take the lid off at the end and put it under the broiler for 3 minutes.

2) I cut the easy meat off the chicken, to keep in slices in tupperware for sandwiches, or to decorate ramen or rice.

3) I put the remaining hacked carcass (frequently a day or two later) in the crockpot, add water, or water plus canned broth, to halfway up the side, simmer 2 hours (I sometimes go longer but if you destroy the connective tissue around the bones it turns out that chicken ribs and vertebrae are teeny and hard to find) pour thru sieve, defat and save broth, let pile of meat and bones cool enough to pick through, pick meat off bones, discard bones.

I like to recombine meat and broth and either pop in the fridge to become the base for several small soups, or put it back in the crock pot and make a big pot of soup. I add whatever veggies sound good and happen to be handy. Sometimes I brown them, sometimes I don't have time.

Ginger, a can of coconut milk, and curry makes a really nice soup with this, but aren't actually necessary. My soup tends to be really low in salt, as Mom cooked without, so I forget to add any. I figure you can always add it at the eating stage if you want it.

I refer to this process (especially the soup stage) as "pwned chicken."
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[User Picture]From: seticat
2010-10-15 10:51 pm (UTC)
Everything that I might drain from a veggie can [beans, corn, green beans, etc] goes in a gallon bag I keep in the freezer and when it's full, it goes in the stock pot with whatever meat item I might have.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-15 11:47 pm (UTC)
I find the liquid from canned beans (such as black beans, kidney beans, etc.) unbearably "canny" in taste, enough to annoy me even in a soup, so I wash them. Others are fine if I need the extra liquid.
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2010-10-16 12:00 am (UTC)
Hmm. That's a thought. I'll have to keep that in mind.
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[User Picture]From: jon_d_r
2010-10-15 11:14 pm (UTC)
I love making soup also. I learned to make a bouquet garni where you tie up all the herbs together. Now I let them loose to wander around and infuse the stock with their goodness. I almost always have a large batch of soup going. It makes a meal.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-15 11:50 pm (UTC)
Good soup is indeed a meal. Soup and bread, often enough.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2010-10-16 02:08 pm (UTC)
I have a large pot of potato and mushroom soup in the fridge - and a large bowl of it inside me - as I write!

If you make your own stock - I sometimes do but not always - a pressure cooker is good at speeding the process up. One of the things I like to do with a chicken is to poach it in water (perhaps with a Knorr Stock Pot gel added) with an onion stuck with cloves and a bouquet garni. The meat is wonderfully tender and flavoursome, even if you buy a frozen chicken. But then you boil up the bones with perhaps more onion, a leek and some carrots, for a couple of hours (or 20 minutes in the pressure cooker). The resulting stock can be used as stew, or what makes it even better is if you freeze it, and then use it to cook up another chicken.... and even another. That was the best soup ever, but whether I'd ever have the patience to repeat that, I'm not sure!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-16 02:16 pm (UTC)
My mother had a pressure cooker when I was a small child, but one day it...um...blew out its pressure gauge and painted the ceiling with whatever was in it. My mother quit using it after that and I've never been tempted. I understand that the newer ones have less tendency to "flip their lids" and "blow their stacks" than the pre-WWII model my mother had.

Right now, however, despite discarding old pots and reorganizing, I don't have storage room for another pot. I've still having to hot-swap some in and out of the oven/stovetop space.

Working at home means I don't have to cook fast...I can afford to put on the big stock pot and just let it simmer away for hours.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2010-10-16 03:08 pm (UTC)
You probably have a bigger kitchen than I do! I don't have room, although I do get my slow-cooker out on a regular basis. But the pressure cooker is good for some things - I especially like it for preparing Seville oranges for marmalade each January.
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[User Picture]From: Kathryn Cramer
2010-10-17 02:51 pm (UTC)

yesterday's soup-making (from Kathryn Cramer)

I bought a 14 quart stock pot about a month ago, and used it yesterday to make about 3 gallons of an experimental soup: green tomato soup using an avgolemono base.

It came out pretty well. (My mother had three bowls of it at dinner.)

The general concept is this: First make a big pot of chicken stock and then make that into avgolemno soup. Before adding the lemon & the rice to the soup, reserve about a cup of the soup to cook the tomatoes in.

Core and quarter the green tomatoes (I used about 8 or 9 lbs for the final 12 quarts of soup.) Put the tomatoes in a big pot and cook them in the reserved liquid until soft. Run the green tomatoes through a food mill and add to the soup. (I also put in what was left in the food mill after milling for texture.) Add lemon juice to taste. (I initially had put in a cup of lemon juice, and added another half cup after we had the soup at dinner.)

I have managed to get it all in the refrigerator, but I need to go buy some more freezer jars so I can freeze more of it.

I have enough soup so that if I freeze it, I can have a quart a week for quite a while.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-17 02:59 pm (UTC)

Re: yesterday's soup-making (from Kathryn Cramer)

Wow! That's a LOT of soup. Sounds good.
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[User Picture]From: Kathryn Cramer
2010-10-17 03:37 pm (UTC)

Re: yesterday's soup-making (from Kathryn Cramer)

On Friday, I visited a local organic farm, and the farmer was describing proper storage of green tomatoes for ripening. And, on hearing this, I realized I was storing my green tomatoes all wrong and they weren't going to ripen, they were just going to get moldy; and so I had better learn to cook with green tomatoes right quick.

Friday night, I made lentils with green tomatoes, which was very good. I waited until Saturday to do the really heavy cooking.

(The farm I visited was Essex Farm in Essex, NY. Mark and Kristin Kimball are really interesting -- and extremely hospitable -- people. Kristin's book, The Dirty Life, just came out: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20101010/LIVING09/101008013/Author-captures-‘The-Dirty-Life-on-new-farms ).
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[User Picture]From: sablia
2010-10-19 03:59 pm (UTC)
It's really interesting. We've never really made chicken stock ourselves at home (probably since the only one who might be bothered to try is usually at work...) Anyway, whenever my mom DOES find the time to make soup, its usually vegetarian. We've just never had many meaty soups in our family. Do you recommend anything for a vegetarian stock? I think she uses V-8 and bullion cube(s) depending on the size...
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-19 04:25 pm (UTC)
I've never made a purely vegetable stock, but the advice I've seen elsewhere on all stock-making is to include a lot of strong flavored herbs and vegetables. Minimal level would be onions, garlic, carrot, celery (with leaves), parsley (any kind.) You could add others (a stray radish left over from something else, spinach or chard leaves, etc.--anything you've trimmed away while preparing vegetables because it's too old, too tough, raggedy looking, etc.) I don't know what herbs you like. I'd put in a sprig of rosemary, a bay leaf (or more, depending on size), sage, basil, etc. and also black peppercorns. Dried herbs will do. If you want tomatoes in the final stock (and the soups you make from it) then tomato paste or diced tomatoes or both would work. The trick with vegetables, I think, is balancing those that will yield bitter or sweet flavors to the stock. (Something that meat in the stock helps with.) I expect experimenting would be necessary, depending on the vegetables you have available to use.

Personally, I wouldn't use V-8 or bouillon cubes because of the high salt content (I try to keep stocks minimal on sodium, because as you reduce them they get saltier.) That's just a preference, though. If you don't have concerns about sodium levels then it's not a problem. My mother used bouillon cubes and so did I at first.

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[User Picture]From: sablia
2010-10-20 03:33 am (UTC)
I see. That makes sense. Does the final stock end up extremely flavorful if you include strongly-flavored herbs and veggies, or does the flavor get a little diluted and so you want stronger flavors to start with?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-10-20 04:36 am (UTC)
It's the dilution factor. You start off with your ingredients and water--so the flavors are diluted to start with. As you reduce the stock, you concentrate the flavor again, but you're not going to get to the same intensity that you get if you take a mouthful of parsley or celery leaves or a carrot. What you do get is the lovely blend of a more delicate level of flavor--and then when you make soup with your stock, and reiterate the founding flavors, they come in much more brightly than if you were making soup with just water, not stock. You don't need as much in the soup, to bring out those flavors again.

I'm hoping next summer to have enough garden vegetables to make some vegetable stock, but our summer weather's so chancy (in terms of rain and extremes of heat) that we may get just enough to eat and no more.



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From: (Anonymous)
2010-10-21 11:11 pm (UTC)

Black Bean/Chorizo

I experimented the other night with a recipe I found on the net.

1 package of Chorizo sausage
7 or 8 chopped up cloves of garlic roasted on the grill (leftover from the previous night)
1 medium onion rough chopped
3 cans of Black Beans (drained/washed)
3 cans of Chicken Broth
1 can of diced tomatoes (drained)
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 package of mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, peas, green beans)

strip the casing from the chorizo and then tear it apart and brown in a dutch oven with olive oil. add the garlic and onion

once the onions are translucent add the remaining ingredients (except one can of beans) and bring to a boil

once it boils up take the third can of beans and mash them up and then add them in.

turn the heat down and wait till it thickens up (i had to add some cornstarch).

When you're ready crack open a beer and ladle out into a bowl and throw in a dollop of sour cream.

Yum
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