It’s been a while since my last post and since I wrote a food related post! But since my exams are over now and I’ve got more time to enjoy time in the kitchen, I’m going to start posting more posts related to the food I am cooking and eating.
When I first started getting into cooking, I was shocked at how easy it is to make soup at home! I had only had soup at restaurants or at school cafeterias so I had no idea how easy they are to make. I started off with making chicken soup, and now I regularly make tomato soup and sometimes potato and leek soup if I’m craving something warming and cozy.
Since a few months ago I’ve also started making my own stock for soups and I have to say that it’s so worth the extra time and effort instead of using store bought stock. It also couldn’t be easier to make homemade stock!
Here’s what I do. Usually, I plan a few days in advance of what I will be cooking so if I know that I want to make soup in 2-3days, I save all my veggies scraps from cooking all my meals leading up to the day I want to make soup. Since I always have a bowl next to me to put all my veggies scraps in when I am cooking, I just put all those in a freezer safe container or bag to pop in the freezer till I am ready to use them. I will mostly use any veggies scraps but you definitely want lots of carrot, onion or leek, celery scraps for the best-tasting stock. Veggies that I wouldn’t recommend you use is tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, you get the idea. You could make an amazing veggie stock with leftover veggie scraps and some herbs but if you prefer the deeper flavor of chicken stock you can always save chicken bone when you buy a whole chicken or chicken thighs.
I get a pack of chicken thighs or a whole chicken almost every week so when I am cooking with the chicken thighs, I remove the thigh bone and always pop those in the freezer to use in the future to make stock. With the whole chicken, if I’m doing a roast, I always spatchcock my chicken so I save the backbone as well in the freezer for future use. You could always use fresh veggies and chicken but I like to do it my way to waste less food.
So I have all your veggie scraps and chicken, I put them all into the biggest pot that I have (which is a wok for me), making sure it has a lid. I wouldn’t say there’s an exact amount of veggies I use because it just depends on how much there is but for the chicken, I usually use about 5-7 pieces of chicken bone to make stock for about 3-4 people depending on the serving size. With the veggies and the chicken, the more you add to the pot with less water, the more intense the flavor of the stock will be. Which in that case, you could always add more water to it when you go on to make soup with the stock. So it really doesn’t matter how much water you use, but I always put enough water in the pot to cover all the veggies and bone. If I have any in the fridge, I also put a few stalks of parsley, a jalapeno, a few bay leaves, and some black peppercorns for additional flavor.
Once everything is ready, I put the lid on the pot and bring everything to a boil, then simmer it for about 1 1/2 hours. One important step is, when the stock first comes up to a boil, it’s going to have a lot of foam with little bits of veggies floating to the top. My grandma always removes them with a spoon so I do the same. I think it just makes for a more clean stock even though I do strain the stock once it’s finished. I would also advise you to stir the stock every 15mins or so just to check on them and to make sure the heat isn’t too high that the stock is at a rolling boil instead of a simmer. If you are using a jalapeno in the stock, it’s not a bad idea to taste the stock to make sure it’s not too spicy for your taste. And if I’m making chicken soup, sometimes I’ll add a few chicken breasts into the stock in the last half hour to add extra flavor and to poach the chicken for the soup. This is also when I start prepping to make the soup now.
For the soup, I always finely chop up 1 carrot, 1 onion or leek(only the white part), and 1 celery stalk to make a mirepoix. You could always add some broccoli or potato but the mirepoix is a must for best tasting soup in my opinion. Once all the veggies are prepped, chuck them in a medium to big sized pot on the stove with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried thyme to taste. I always like to have the heat on medium to low for cooking the veggies for soup, constantly stirring, so I don’t get any caramelization happening in the veggies for the cleanest soup. Once the veggies have softened up a bit, the stock will most likely be ready now so I will remove the chicken breasts, strain the stock, and pour them into the pot with my veggies. If you think the stock is too strong, you can always add some water to the pot to adjust to your taste at this point. Depending on what mood I’m in, sometimes I add a bit of rice, peas, lentils, or pasta to the soup. So I will add whatever I’m fancying to the pot, bring the soup back up to a boil and simmer until the rice, pasta or whatever is cook through. If you do decide to put extra bits to the soup, one thing to keep in mind is to only use about 1/3 of a portion of whatever you put in the soup. This is because rice, lentils, or pasta will soak up a lot of the stock and if you have a full portion of them, it will make for a chunkier soup. If that is what you want, feel free to you however much you want, but I always like to use less for soups. Oh and don’t forget to chop up your chicken breast and put those in the soup as well. Once your soup is finished, check for seasoning and voila! You’ve made homemade soup!
This is what mine looked like and as you can tell, I had a lot of veggies in mine, which is how I like it but if you prefer to have fewer chunks of veggies, you could always cook with less! If you cooked your stock for long enough, soup liquid should have a bit of a yellowish tint to the color and that’s usually how I tell if the stock is ready.
If you don’t already make soup at home, I hope you try it out as it will taste so much better than store bought soup! It’s a go-to meal that I cook for when James is sick, during the winter, and even when I’m just lazy to cook since this only requires a few ingredients to make!
Till next time guys!