How to Make Soup Stock – Free and Easy!

 

How to make delicious, homemade soup stock at no cost (Modified from an image by stevepb/Pixabay/CC0)

 

Chicken broth is an ingredient in roughly half of my freezer meal recipes. It’s not a terribly expensive ingredient – if you’re just cooking up one meal at a time. But if you need several cups per recipe and you’re preparing a whole month’s worth of freezer meals, the cost really starts to add up! And of course there is also the question of all the added sodium in commercial broths, which many of us would be happy to avoid.

The simple solution is to make your own broth. Homemade broths and soup stocks are easy enough to make, and if you learn a few easy tips you can pretty much make them for free. But forget the complex Julia Childs recipes! This isn’t gourmet cooling; it’s a matter of survival for your family. You do what you’ve gotta do, and you save the fancy stock recipes for times when you can afford to splurge.

Free Sources for Broth Ingredients

  1. Vegetable peels and scraps: scrub veggies well so you can save the peels and end bits for your soup bag – just store in a zipped bag in the freezer until it’s time to make broth;
  2. Cooking liquids: when you boil/steam veggies or have cooking liquid left after boiling a ham, pour this tasty stuff into Mason jars and freeze until you cook up your broth;
  3. Canning liquids: If you drain a can of tomatoes or olives before adding to a recipe, save the liquid to add to broths or other recipes;
  4. Bones and skin: Whenever you roast chicken, beef, pork or lamb, save the discarded bones, skin and such, and freeze in labelled bags – now you can make a meat stock!
  5. Meat trimmings: The bits of fatty or gristly meat you trim off are good for adding flavour to a broth.

Basically, take any opportunity you have to save the “inedible” bits when you prepare your food. Even onion skins and potato peels can be added to your soup bag, in small quantities. They will give your broth a darker colour and richer flavour, so they’re especially good if you want to make a beef or lamb broth.

Remember to add in things like the leaves from the stalks of celery, or the carrot and beet tops (if you don’t use them in your cooking as is.) If you remove the stems from broccoli, spinach, kale, etc., add these to your soup bag as well. The same goes for herbs: if you have just a tiny bit of parsley leftover after making tabouleh, or stems from rosemary or thyme, toss them in the soup bag too!

When you need broth for a recipe, just pull out a soup bag and plop its contents into a heavy stock pot. Cover about halfway up with water and/or reserved cooking liquids, and simmer with the lid on for a few hours to extract the flavour. If you have bones or meat cooking liquids saved up, use these to make a meat stock instead of a vegetable broth.

 

Stock or broth?

Broth means you’ve used vegetables with or without chopped bits of meat

To make stock, you must have bones to provide the marrow and gelatin that thickens the stock

 

 

Featured Image Credit: Making stock by Steve Buissinne (aka stevepb,) courtesy of Pixabay; CC0

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7 thoughts on “How to Make Soup Stock – Free and Easy!”

  1. I hope this will work for me. So far I’ve never been able to make either broth or stock and have it taste as good as the commercial versions, which I always have had to add to improve the flavor. I have frozen the left-overs in bags, but maybe I’ve added too much water. I normally use a crockpot these days. Should that make any difference?

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    1. It can take quite a lot of vegetables and bones to make your broth really tasty. Try to go easy on the water, until you discover how much water your soup bag will flavour.

      I usually use a huge canning pot when I make my broth. We throw in several of the large freezer bags, stuffed with bones and vegetable ends. Sometimes I also add fresh garlic or onion, or a few herbs and spices when I’m making the broth. And if we have any gravy, cooking liquids, etc., that goes in too. I love to add the broth from boiling carrots, as it’s sweet and it mixes well with most other ingredients. It balances the bitter taste that can come from things like onion skins.

      The rule of thumb (depending on the dimensions of your pot) is to have the water come only about halfway up the contents of your soup bag. Stir things around every now and again, to be sure you’re extracting the flavour from all the foods you’ve saved. Once you strain, you can add a little commercial broth or some spices or other flavourings. I know some folks use a black cup of tea or coffee if the broth is not rich enough. A little brown sugar and vinegar helps too, as does allowing the broth to reduce before you use it.

      Hope that helps, Barb!

      Don’t be disappointed if you have to add a bit of commercial broth, especially while you’re figuring this out. Just use less water the next time, or plan to add cooking liquids.

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