Soup season is upon us! Make and freeze a big batch of vegetable, chicken or beef stock this weekend and you’ll thank yourself over the next few months. Homemade stocks are infinitely fresher and more flavorful than supermarket versions, so your modest effort will pay off time and time again as cold nights beg for cozy dinners in.
Get started with our basic recipes, then browse all of our warming soups and stews for inspiration.
Many soups can become vegetarian dishes by using vegetable stock instead of chicken or meat stock. To add a richer flavor and color, caramelize the vegetables first before simmering the stock.
2 large leeks, trimmed and carefully washed
2 large carrots, sliced
2 large celery stalks, sliced
2 large yellow onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
8 cups water
1/2 tsp. white peppercorns
Salt, to taste
Slice the white portion of the leeks and place in a large stockpot; reserve the green tops. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pot. Sandwich the parsley, thyme and bay leaf between the reserved leek tops and securely tie with kitchen string. Add to the pot along with the water.
Over low to medium heat, slowly bring the liquid to a simmer, regularly skimming off the scum that rises to the surface until no more forms. Add the white peppercorns, cover partially and continue simmering for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Line a strainer with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth and set it inside a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into the strainer. Discard the solids. Season the stock with salt and let cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to several days, or freeze for up to 6 months.
This is one of the most versatile stocks you can make. It’s delicious served on its own, ladled over noodles, but it also adds savory depth to any dish, including stews, risottos, casseroles and more. Tip: stewing chicken parts make a particularly flavorful stock and are less costly than fryer or broiler parts.
1 leek, trimmed and carefully washed
6 lb. stewing chicken parts
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, root trimmed
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 celery stalk with leaves, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 fresh parsley sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
5 quarts water
1/2 tsp. peppercorns
Salt, to taste
Cut the white portion of the leek into 1-inch chunks and place in a large stockpot; reserve the green tops. Add the chicken pieces, onion, carrot and celery to the pot. Sandwich the parsley, thyme and bay leaf between the reserved leek tops and securely tie with kitchen string. Add to the pot along with the water.
Over low to medium heat, slowly bring the liquid to a simmer, regularly skimming off the scum that rises to the surface until no more forms. Add the peppercorns, cover partially and continue simmering gently for about 2 hours, skimming occasionally.
Line a strainer with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth and set it inside a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into the strainer. Discard the solids. Season with salt and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. A layer of fat will solidify on the surface of the stock; lift or spoon it off and discard. Stock may be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to several days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Makes about 4 quarts. Featured Recipe: Wild Rice and Red Chard Soup with Andouille
A mix of marrowbones and shanks gives this stock a distinctive and aromatic yet mild flavor and a light body. It’s silky texture and richness are delicious in soups, but they also add dimension to simple pan sauces to accompany meats.
6 lb. meaty beef shanks, cracked
1 marrowbone, cracked
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 leek, chopped (optional)
2 cups water
2 tomatoes, halved
6 garlic cloves
5 fresh parsley sprigs
2 small bay leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 whole cloves
Mushroom stems (optional)
Preheat an oven to 450°F. Place the shanks and marrowbone in a roasting pan. Roast, turning occasionally, until browned, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a stockpot but do not clean the roasting pan. Add water to cover the bones by 4 inches and bring to a boil, skimming often. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 hours, skimming occasionally.
Meanwhile, brown the onions, carrots, celery and leek (if using) in the roasting pan over medium-high heat until caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add to the stockpot. Pour the 2 cups water into the roasting pan and deglaze over medium-high heat, stirring to remove any browned bits from the pan bottom. Set aside.
When the shanks have simmered for 1 to 2 hours, add the deglazed juices to the stockpot along with the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, cloves and mushroom stems, if using. Cover partially and simmer gently for at least 4 hours or for up to 8 hours.
Remove from the heat. Scoop out and discard all the solids, then pour the contents of the pot through a fine-mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth into 1 or more storage containers. Refrigerate, uncovered, until well chilled and the fat has solidified on top. Lift off and discard the fat. Use the stock at this point or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Makes about 4 quarts. Featured Recipe: French Onion Soup