The cold just does not want to go away… I don’t mind it so much, I do many winter activities, so on those humdrum days, being outdoors is what I love, even in -26 temperatures, Brrr! When I am indoors, cooking and baking keeps me busy during the long winter months. One of my favorite things is SOUP! I love soup, any soup. I especially love coming home after a long day of snowshoeing or skiing and having a hot bowl of delicious soup. I have a basic broth that I use for all my soup bases. When I am feeling like chicken, I add a roasting chicken to the pot, feeling beefy? I take out my cross rib roast bones and beef shank bones. I also love a vegetarian soup, so no bones, just a whole lot of vegetables. I never throw away my chicken carcasses or beef bones, they make the most delicious soup broth. I also have on hand potato water (you know that potato water you used to boil your potatoes? Don’t throw it down the drain, save it and put it in freezable containers, it keeps for a good 3 months. Even that vegetable water you use to cook your veggies, keep it!). Here is my basic MAGIC broth recipe.
In a very large stock pot, fill the pot halfway with filtered water. Throw in the following;
– About 4 large washed and rinsed carrots cut up in chunks
– About 5 celery stalks washed and rinsed with the leaves on, cut in chunks
– about 3 small onions cut up in chunks
– Add 1 Cup Potato Water (reserved from an earlier cooking)
– Add 1 cup of vegetable water (reserved from an earlier cooking, can be any mix of vegetable water).
– Add about 3 large Bay Leafs (fresh is best, but dried is fine to use as well).
This is the part where you decide what kind of soup you are making, Chicken? Beef? Vegetarian?
Add the following ingredients for which you prefer:
– Whole Roasting Chicken or frozen chicken bones, whole roasting chicken is nice, because you can cut up the cooked chicken and add to your soup.
– Assorted Fresh Herbs. For chicken I like Rosemary, Thyme, Basil or Oregano, choose what you like. Fresh is best, but you can go ahead and use dried if that is what you have on hand.
Now cook this up on medium heat for at least 2 hours or until the chicken is cooked through. Let cool. Carefully strain the broth into another large pot. Keep the chicken, remove skin and cut up into pieces to use in the soup. Reserve the meat. Discard the vegetables. Put the broth back into the stock pot and cover. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, scoop any fat that has surfaced to the top, should be very easy to remove, it is a hard film on top of your broth. Discard. Return pot to stove and add fresh vegetables cut into bite size pieces. I add the following:
– 1 to 2 cups sliced carrots
– 1 to 2 cups sliced celery
– 1 to 2 cups turnip, cut into bite size chunks
– I add a few bunches of each Fresh Herb or 1 T. of Dried: Basil, Oregano, Rosemary.
– 1 T. cracked black pepper
Cook on medium heat until vegetables are cooked, still firm, not overcooked and mushy. You want them a little on the hard side. Just before the vegetables are cooked, add:
– Add your reserved poultry pieces.
– 1 Cup Corn Niblets
At this point I ladle my soup into freezable containers and cool completely in refrigerator overnight and put in freezer the next day. If I am serving the soup, I add some Tortellini, or noodles or rice. The amount depends on the servings I have. I only add my noodles or rice etc… when I am actually serving the soup, do not add it to the soup and freeze, the water content in the soup makes it go mushy, same as for potatoes, I only add this when I am actually serving the soup. *Variations: I rolled small turkey meatballs and added it to the vegetable cooking time point to make a turkey meatball soup. Cook until meatballs are cooked through. I also added about 1 cup sliced cabbage. **When adding vegetables like spinach or broccoli, add at the last minute of cooking as they cook quickly.
I made a Beef Minestrone Soup. So whatever vegetables or seasonings you want to add is all up to you. For Beef, add the following:
– Beef Shank, Saved Cross Rib Bones, Blade Roast (I throw it all in!).
– Assorted Fresh Herbs or 1 T. Dried: Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, Marjoram.
– 1 T. cracked black pepper
Now cook this on medium heat. If you are using previously cooked meat and bones only cook for about an hour. If you are using fresh uncooked meat, cook until the meat is cooked through and still tender. Do not overcook it!
Follow the same procedure for straining the broth as the poultry. Cool the meat and cut up in bite size pieces, reserve. The next day, add the following:
– 2 Cups Sliced Carrots
– 2 Cups Sliced Celery
– 2 Cups Turnip, cut into bite size chunks
Cook until slightly hard but not mushy. Add the following:
– Reserved meat pieces
– 1 Cup Corn Niblets
– 1 Cup Red Kidney Beans
Just before serving throw in a big bunch of washed and rinsed Baby Spinach, cooks in 2 minutes. You want it a bright green.
Follow the above recipe but just OMIT any poultry or beef. Any vegetable can be used to make your basic broth. I throw everything I can get my hands on. Squashes, parsnips, sweet potato, and of course good old carrots, celery, turnip. I always add potatoes 1/2 hour before serving, makes a good staple. I never add potatoes to my containers to freeze and they always end up mushy, yuck! Any kind of Herbs can be used, fresh or dried. Try whatever vegetables, herbs, spices, toppings and sides that suit your fancy. A hot bowl of homemade soup and crusty bread after a day of winter activities hits the spot! Most importantly, cook, experiment and simply have fun.