Homemade Soup 101
Soups may seem complicated or time-consuming, but if you develop a simple system, you can make homemade soup faster than any store-bought freezer meal, and it won’t have any commercial yuckies, such as MSG, GMO corn products, or artificial ingredients.
The first step is to have broth or “stock” on hand (I use the terms interchangeably). Broth freezes very well, so I suggest purchasing a big giant stock pot (3-5 gallon) and a deep freezer to store both the veggie and bone scraps you will use to make stock, then the finished stock in freezer-safe containers. I use old yogurt containers, but you can use anything that can be frozen—ice tray molds, loaf pans, freezer jars, etc. Broth will keep quite some time in the refrigerator if the fat layer on top is not disturbed, but it is very disappointing if it does spoil after all that work!
Follow our Basic Stock Recipe to produce this gelatin- and mineral-rich culinary treasure-trove. Once you have a good-sized broth stash, here are some ideas for soups.
1. Use stock as a substitute for water in savory recipes.
Rice, gravy, bread, even replace water while cooking pasta (but don’t pour the broth down the drain—use it for something else!). You can increase the mineral content of any dish simply by using homemade broth in place of water. Simply replace whatever volume of water with an equal part of liquid broth (meaning you need to thaw your broth ahead of time).
2. Use stock as a base for soups and chili (instead of water and bouillon).
Using stock allows you to avoid using icky artificial ingredients, such as MSG which is found in most bouillon cubes, to make soups from scratch. My favorites are French Onion Soup, tomato and ground beef & tomato chili, sausage and leek soup, and chicken and dumplings. I also like to make a homemade version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana using our pork breakfast sausage, organic potatoes, pasture-raised cream, and locally-grown kale.
3. Use stock and leftovers to clean out the fridge and make an instant meal!
If you have leftover roast veggies, stir-fry, baked potato, breakfast sausage, fried chicken, cooked sweet potato—practically anything—just warm some broth, toss in your chopped unspoiled refrigerator castaways, and you have lunch. I am always amazed at how far I can stretch a few measly leftovers by doing this. Season to taste with salt and pepper, basil and oregano. One tip I can offer is if you are using some raw ingredients and some cooked ingredients, simmer the raw stuff in the broth first, before adding the cooked things. Cooked veggies will rapidly fall apart if simmered for a significant amount of time, and nobody likes mushy veggies.
Once you have an excellent broth, it is easy to turn any meat and vegetables into a nourishing and delicious meal in very little time.