Taking Stock (and making it better)

03bVealChickenStockStartbfLOGood soup starts with good soup stock.

A simple rule, and simply followed…


What if you don’t have good soup stock on hand? Or, what if you happen to have some pretty decent soup stock from the market, but want to make it a little better, mebbe even a bit more like your own, homemade stock, if you happened to make your own, homemade stock?

01aStockBoxesbfWell, allow me to help you out.

Our local market sells Kitchen Basics Stock in the ‘Organics’ section – and Rich maintains that he can taste the difference when I use this instead of more well-known brands, so I always try to begin with a couple of boxes of their stock (when I don’t make my own).

02dVeggiesSeasoningsbfBut, nice as it is, I still like to give it a bit of a flavor boost.

•64 oz stock (I used veal and chicken)
•1 sweet onion, sliced (with skin)
•1 yellow onion, sliced (with skin)
•6 carrots, roughly chopped
•6 celery tops, with leaves, roughly chopped
01cVermouthbf•1 good handful parsley, with stems
•2 bay leaves
•Pinch Sichuan peppercorns
(or 3 or 4 dried  Tien Tsin peppers)
•1 tsp freeze-dried shallots
•1/2 tsp dried thyme
•1/2 cup sweet vermouth
•3/4 cup white vermouth

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and
simmer for 30 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, then strain and use the stock as you will.

04aStockStrainbfLOFeel free to switch up the stock – all chicken, plain beef, even veggie – it’s all good; and adjust your vermouth measures based on your tastes and bar stock. I like the combination of dry and sweet for a rich soup (like French Onion), or a hearty stock-based dish like Stroganoff.

Feel free to adjust your veggies as well – I’ve been known to add some sweet peppers that were getting a bit old in the crisper drawer with fine results.

OnionSoupToastedbfLOOnce strained, you can turn the improved stock into a fine soup right away, or let it rest in the fridge and come back to it when you’re ready.

If you’re ready for onion soup now, here is the basic recipe; but…

if you can wait for Friday’s Parfait! Post, you’ll get caught up on a couple of nifty adjustments I made to this batch.

In truth, I was afraid I’d over-spiced this batch, but after dunking home made toasted garlic French bread slices into the bowl and sealing it over with some very nice Gruyère before running it under the broiler, I would have to say it was practically perfect.

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