Homemade Soup Stock

Homemade Soup Stock
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Winter Soups and Homemade Soup Stock

Homemade soup stock is not only healthier because the cook controls the amount of salt and fat that goes into the recipe, but it's also a thrifty alternative to purchased broth or bouillon.

The American Woman's Cook Book, published in the 1940's, has some great tips on making your own stock. Cooks during this time were extremely frugal because it was a necessity to keep their family fed during the tough times.

The text below is directly from the book, and my notes are afterwards.

Cut meat in small pieces and saw or crack bone. This is done to increase the surface exposed to the action of hot water.

Brown from 1/4 to 1/2 the meat for brown stocks and consommés. This gives added color and improves flavor.

Soak the meat and bone in cold water for thirty minutes or more before cooking. The helps extract juices.

Heat gradually to the simmering point. If stock is to be used for bouillon, consommé, or any clear soup, skim at this time. Continue to simmer for three or four hours to insure as complete extraction as possible of the juices and flavor of meat. If the mixture boils, it is not so fine in flavor.

Add the spices, herbs and vegetables, and continue simmering from 1/2 hour to one hour. The seasonings are added at this time rather than earlier to prevent the disagreeable flavor of over-cooked vegetables…

Strain the soup into a large bowl, or other container. If the stock is to be used for clear soups, place several thicknesses of cheesecloth over the strainer before pouring the mixture through it.

Cook the stock quickly, because quick cooling improves the keeping quality of the soup. Soup should, if possible, always be allowed to become thoroughly cold before being used, since the fat hardens and collects in a cake on top and can be removed easily.

Homemade Soup Stock

Brown Beef Stock

2 pounds beef with bone
1 1/4 quarts cold water
4-6 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 blade mace
1 tsp. sweet herbs
Sprig parsley
1 tbsp. each carrot, onion, celery, turnip
1 tsp. salt

A good stock can be made by using leftover meat scraps and bones instead of the beef specified, and by substituting any available vegetables such as the outer leaves of lettuce, celery tops, etc. for those given above.

Notes: Sweet herbs usually refer to basil, oregano, thyme or sage, but a tsp. of Italian seasoning can be used too. Mace is the red outer layer that surrounds the nutmeg seed. It's separated after harvesting, and if you don't have it on hand, a pinch or two of nutmeg can be substituted. If neither is available, a bit of ground ginger or a small amount of grated fresh ginger can be used instead.

The stock should always be strained to remove the herbs, spices and any vegetables that have been added because they essentially have no flavor left after cooking such a long time. The stock can be a base for many soups, and can be frozen in freezer containers if it isn’t used immediately.

I freeze beef bones and fat parts of roast when cutting it up for stew. Once I have enough saved up, then I made soup stock. Don't use expensive cuts of beef or pork for stock. Cheap cuts of meat work well because they are cooked for a long time to remove the flavor.

Below is a vegetable soup that is full of flavor, especially when using homemade beef stock. Substitute any vegetable you have on hand.

Virginia Vegetable Soup
Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924

1/2 cup each, diced:
2 tbsp. diced sweet pepper
1/2 cup tomato puree or sauce
2 quarts soup stock
1 cup chopped meat
1/2 cup cooked Navy or Lima beans
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
Speck pepper
Speck cayenne

Simmer raw vegetable in stock until tender, about one and one-half hours. Add meat, cooked beans, and seasonings. Cook 15 minutes longer. Makes 10 servings.

Chicken or Turkey Broth
I make soup with leftover roast chicken or turkey, sometimes adding additional purchased broth if it's needed. The American Woman's Cook Book had a small mention of making chicken or turkey soup with the leftover bones that I found interesting. Other than onion, no other herbs were added, but each cook has their own preferences. I always add thyme, garlic, pepper and salt. Sometimes I will add Italian seasoning as well. During the garden season, I use fresh sage, thyme, chives and oregano. Always strain the broth well after cooking, since poultry bones can be small, and easily missed.

From the cookbook:
Scrape the meat from the bones, break the bones, pack in a kettle, and cover with cold water, adding a small onion. Cover closely and simmer very gently for three hours. Strain and cool.

The meat that is cut from the bones is used later when the broth is made into soup, or it can be frozen and used at another time. The recipe below is one recommended for using chicken stock.

Onion Soup Gratinee

4 onions
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 quart chicken stock
8 slices French bread
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Slice onions very thin, add to melted butter and cook slowly until tender but not brown. Add flour and blend well; then add hot chicken stock slowly, stirring constantly. Season. Toast bread, spread with melted butter, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and heat under broiler until cheese is slightly melted. Place slice on each serving of soup. Serves 8.

Image 1: Wikimedia.org

Image 2: Brenda Hyde


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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