From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We are a family of soup eaters, and summer or winter, a search of my refrigerator would usually reveal a quart or so of it sitting on a shelf. At this time of year, the soups are quite light, but when served with a salad or a sandwich they make a filling lunch or a passable supper at the end of an over-scheduled day. My spring and summer soups are not formulaic and they tend to be made with whatever I have on hand. The pantry and the refrigerator are both fair game when it comes to ingredients, so leftovers, frozen vegetables and canned goods are often combined, depending on the direction I think I'm going. It's best to think of my soups as works in progress. I have been known to change direction mid-course and what began as an Italian soup may be Mexican by the time it reaches the table. I blame this on my misspent youth. Those of us who were raised in kitchens that had to deal with war-time rationing, tend to hang on to bits and bobs of things that others might throw onto the compost heap. For years, I kept a bag of vegetable scraps that I used to make soup stock and I still keep shrimp shells and bones to heighten the flavors of my soups. There is a certain irony in all of this. My closets have no garments that are over two years old, magazines are clipped and purged monthly and books, save for a precious few, and sent to new homes twice a year. I run a tight ship and you'd be impressed, or distressed as the case may be, as long as you stayed away from my refrigerator or freezer. Suffice it to say, if you were to peek, you'd probably conclude we could survive Armageddon, or, barring that, have one heck of a last meal. The soup I'm featuring today is so quick and easy to assemble that I felt guilty about posting it as a stand-alone recipe. I decided to piggyback other stock recipes to the post to make it look more substantive and, hopefully, more appealing to you. The soup is really very nice when it is made with fresh thyme and canned cream corn. I hope you'll give this humble soup a try. Here is how it's made.
Spring Pantry Soup...from the Kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced small
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh minced thyme or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (16-oz.) bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3-5 cups vegetable broth, plus water to cover
1 (14.5-oz.) can creamed corn
2 cups cooked rice or pasta
1 (15-oz.) can white beans (Navy or Great Northern), undrained
Salt and pepper
Optional: Grated Parmesan cheese or pesto
Heat oil in a large dutch-oven or stock pot set over medium-high heat. Cook onions with a pinch of salt until they are translucent but not brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Stir in thyme, bay leaf and thawed mixed vegetables and another pinch of salt. Add broth and water as needed to cover vegetables. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking, uncovered, until vegetables are crisp tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in creamed corn, rice and undrained beans. Simmer until all ingredients are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
2-3 pounds chicken bones or carcasses ( with some meat remaining)
6 to 8 cups water
1 large onion, quartered
1 large carrot, cut into around 12 pieces
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken carcass in medium sized pot and just cover with water. Bring to boil and then simmer over a low-medium hear for one hour. You may need to keep adjusting the temperature from time to time as some liquid evaporates. Skim fat from top of broth. Add onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, bay leaf and celery seeds and continue to simmer for 3 hours, stirring once or twice. Season to taste. Allow stock to cool uncovered. Strain into a storage container and either use immediately or freeze for later use. Yield: 1-1/2 to 2 quarts.
Julia Child's Beef Stock
3 to 4 pounds meaty beef bones
3 medium carrots, scraped, broken in several pieces
2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
3 stalks celery, broken in several pieces
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into chunks
1 sprig thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
2 to 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled ( More if you like)
2 whole cloves
6 -8 peppercorns
Place the beef bones in a large heavy pot and cover with cold water by about two inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and skim off scum which rises to the top--this should take about five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and more cold water so that everything is covered by at least an inch or two. Bring stock to a simmer again, skimming as necessary. When stock is simmering (Do NOT allow it to boil), partially cover and maintain at a very slow simmer for four to five hours.
If water level gets too low, add boiling water to pot. Skim contents as necessary. When vegetables and bones have given their all to the broth, strain broth and discard the solids. Set stock, uncovered in refrigerator until fat has risen to the top and solidified. Remove and discard the fat. Taste degreased stock (remembering it contains no salt) and if it is not strong enough, reduce it over medium heat.
When stock is cold, store in refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer. Yield: 2 quarts.
1/2 head rinsed celery (top portion of celery head that has been cut in half crosswise)
1 bunch parsley
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 quarts water
Salt and pepper
Place celery in a large stock pot.Add a whole bunch of parsley and a bay leaf. Trim roots off onion and cut in half. Only remove skins if they are split and dusty, otherwise just leave them on. Cut tops off carrots, wash and cut in half lengthways. Add water and put on to simmer for an hour and a half to two hours. Strain vegetables, reserving stock.our out of it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate or freeze when cool. Yield: 2 quarts.
Shells from about 2 pounds of shrimp
2 onions, halved
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 lemons, halved
8 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons salt
4 quarts cold water
Rinse shrimp shells in cold water and place in stock pot with all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium and cook for 1/2 hour. Strain completely. If not using immediately, cool and refrigerate. If stronger stock desired, boil, uncovered, to reduce. Freezes well. Yield: 2 quarts.
1 turkey carcass
16 cups cold water
2 large celery ribs, sliced
2 large carrots, scraped and sliced
2 onions, quartered ( do NOT peel)
10 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley ( or more, if you wish)
1 tablespoon peppercorn
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Crack carcass into pieces that will fit in pot. Cover with water, turn heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Skim surface of liquid as scum begins to rise. Add celery, carrots, onions, parsley, peppercorns and thyme to pot. Simmer, uncovered 2 to 4 hours. Strain out bones and vegetables. Allow stock to cool. Refrigerate or freeze. Yield: 2 to 4 quarts.
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