Saturday, November 24, 2007

How to Make Soup Broth

One of the simplest ways to make the most of your meat dishes, and leftovers, is to turn it all into soup. But I don't want to assume that everyone knows how to do this so I'll lay it out step by step.

Take the bones from your meal, be they turkey, chicken, ham, or beef, or even shrimp shells or fish heads. Save the drippings from when you roast and bake as well. (Pour the fat off, or skim it off once it cools.) Put them in a large stockpot, or crock pot. Cover with water.

Simmer on low heat for at least 8 hours. If you are using a stock pot make sure you add more water every few hours so it doesn't dry out and burn. The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavor in your soup stock.

Once the broth is to your liking, remove it from heat and pour into another pot or bowl through a strainer. Once the bones have cooled a little, you can sort through them for meat scraps and add them to the broth. You'd be surprised how much meat can be there.

Discard the bones and use the broth in you favorite soup recipe. Add chopped vegetables, potatoes, meat, rice, beans, barley, whatever you have in the fridge that should be used soon.

TIP: When making soup add things according to their cooking time. If you add dry beans and carrots at the same time, the carrots will be mush long before the beans are cooked through. Wait to add the carrots until the beans are almost all the way cooked. The same goes for everything else.

Variations: To give your broth more flavor, you can add a quartered onion, crushed garlic cloves, chopped celery, crushed chilies, shrimp shells, whatever you want, and add it to the stock when you are cooking it. This adds more flavor. Keep in mind that you will discard these with the bones.

Vegetable soup: Use onions, celery, carrots, turnips, leeks, etc., to make broth. You can puree them all together after in a blender to make a really tasty creamy vegetable soup, or drain and keep the broth only.

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