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How to make parmesan stock at lynnecurry.com.

5 Simple (and Free) Soup Stocks to Recharge Your Life

There are times every year when I need to do a diet reset: after vacation, before the holidays and again afterwards.

Not in a “no more bread ever,” I’ve-got-to-lose-10-pounds self-punishing kind of way. But more to refocus on food as the source of energy and well-being. To choose more of the foods that make me feel fully nourished, not momentarily pleased. And to do that more frequently.

This week is one of those times. Post Thanksgiving and on the doorstep of the December holiday season. We vacationed last week on the Oregon coast and by the time I got home, the feeling hit me: time for a reset.

And don’t we all want to head into the coming days of indulgence feeling really good?

The answer, simply, is more soup.

Minestrone soup recipe at lynnecurry.com.

It’s only Wednesday, and I’ve already made two different pots: minestrone and lentil, two of my family’s favorites.

So, not only is everyone getting more servings of vegetables {ahem, that we all need–note to self}, but they’re happy. So, we can sit around the dinner table and talk about basketball and Christmas lists and holiday concerts. And I don’t have to say a word about anyone eating their broccoli.

For any busy parent, soup can be made at any time of day or night, needs little attention and is ready whenever the first person walks in the door, saying, “Mom, what’s for dinner. I’m starving!”

While you can make soup out of nearly anything you’ll find in the fridge, good homemade soup depend on good stock. Or broth. And to make and eat more soup, you need a ready supply of good-quality stock.

Why Homemade Soup Stock?

I try to avoid buying chicken stock from a can or a box. For one thing, most of them aren’t very good. So, what are you really paying for other than some seasoned, salted water?

Aside from that, chickens are not treated very well {an issue I research and write about for my day job, so go here if you’d like to learn more.}

Turkey stock how to at lynnecurry.com.

Now, I love a good poultry stock and beef bone broth. But, when I don’t have a supply of either of those, there are several other stocks and broths I depend on for making soup.

Essentially, stock is all the same thing: a flavorful liquid into which you cook ingredients to make a soup {or stew or vegetable ragout or pasta or risotto or pilaf}.

None of them come out of a box or a can {though coconut milk and whole peeled tomatoes are both excellent go-tos}. In fact, these soup stocks* are absolutely free.

Here are my five favorite soup stocks to use that all depend on the type of soup you want to make.

5 Simple Homemade Soup Stocks*

Bean water or stock for soup at lynnecurry.com.

*I use the term stock for simplicity sake and because these tasty liquids are just the building blocks, not something you’d eat as is {like a good broth}. You can call them whatever you like!

1. Bean Stock

I call it bean water, and this is my most popular post ever! This is my all-time favorite because it’s a bonus simply from boiling dry beans. So whether I’m cooking pinto beans for chili or white beans for minestrone, I don’t need to use hunt down any other stock. For a flavor boost, I add a garlic clove or hunk of onion and a bay leaf.

End of summer chowder recipe at lynnecurry.com.

2. Vegetable Stock

I have to admit that I’m usually too lazy to make a classic vegetable stock–even though it’s pretty quick. But when there’s a star vegetable involves, such as this corn chowder, I’m all over it. It’s a great habit to use the well-scrubbed stems and tops from all kinds of vegetables to toss into a pot and simmer away for 30 minutes to an hour.

Pasta e fagiole (pasta and bean soup) recipe at lynnecurry.com.

3. Grain, Potato & Pasta Water

Consider this: Anytime you boil food, flavors {and nutrients} seep into the water and most of the time it all goes down the drain. But just like the bean water, you can save the water from boiling potatoes and pasta for use in a soup. This stock will be very starchy, which adds body to soups like pasta and bean soup {pasta e fagiole} and minestrone. Similarly, when I’m making soups that include a grain, I use this free-boiling method and then save some of that tasty water.

Miso stock for soup at lynnecurry.com.

4. Miso Broth

I’m still working on making a homemade miso soup my family loves as much as the Japanese restaurant’s we frequent. But I always keep a package of the best-quality red or yellow miso paste on hand for a easy flavor boost for soup. Miso keeps in the refrigerator seemingly indefinitely and provides a hit of umami flavor you’ll love. One tablespoon stirred into four cups of hot water {miso shouldn’t be boiled} provides a mild-flavor for adding to mushroom-barley soup or beef stew.

How to make parmesan stock at lynnecurry.com.

5. Parmesan Stock

I keep a resealable bag in the freezer and stash rinds from used up wedges of parmigiano-reggiano cheese. I toss one into pots of beans for added flavor. And once I have six to eight of them, I make a pot of parmesan stock. {See the simple recipe below.} Like all the other stocks in this list, it’s a simple simmer of water plus a tasty ingredient–in this case rinds that would otherwise get tossed out. It’s a terrific flavor foundation for any soup with an Italian spin. And it’s killer for making pasta sauces and risotto. .

What About USING Plain Water?

Sure, you can, especially in small quantities. But water will never serve as the backbone for a great soup.

Or, in the words of one of my favorite cooking instructors, “If you can use anything other than water, use it.”

This advice has served me well through my ensuing 20 years of professional cooking. And it has urged me to be resourceful in using everything available to build flavor into every soup and stew I make.

You, too, can make use of these free, quick and simple homemade stocks. They’ll all vegetarian, so you can make soups and stews for everyone. And you can even use them to enhance meat-based soups and stews when you don’t have other stocks on hand.

Eat well now and fortify yourself for the holiday season ahead.

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Parmesan Stock

This recipe is a guideline to follow for making your own stock from leftover parmesan rinds. You can certainly add aromatics, such as garlic and herbs, such as rosemary or bay to your own parmesan stock. You'll get the best depth of flavor using rinds from parmigiano-reggiano cheese, but you can use rinds from any aged hard cheese to make a tasty stock for soups, stews, risotto, and a host of pasta and vegetable dishes.

Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Keyword parmesan stock
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 cups
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

  • 7 cups water
  • 6-8 1/2-inch pieces parmesan rind, trimmed of any white or green mold

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and parmesan rinds in a 2-quart or larger pot. Bring the water to a simmer, partially cover and cook for 1 hour.

  2. Taste the stock and assess the flavor. For a more pronounced flavor, continue simmering for up to 1 hour more. (Note that you will have a reduced yield due to evaporation.)

  3. Discard the parmesan rinds and use the stock as desired for making soups, stews, and pasta or rice dishes.

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