Category Archives: soup recipe

Beets: try them, you’ll like them!

Beets — four+ ways to use them.

Having been raised in a somewhat ethnic family (the “old country,” in this case, being Russia/Poland), I tend to be more open to trying– and usually liking–foods that most Americans would not even consider touching. Heart, liver, kidneys, trotters, blood puddings: my relatives had a real “waste no part of the animal mentality.” Nose to tail consumption. As I’ve always been slender and healthy, I figure I must be doing something right. I’ve also never met a vegetable I didn’t like. I’ll never starve to death, that’s for sure!

beets for kvass

All you need are beets, salt and clean H2O to make Kvas.

One vegetable that I enjoy, yet a lot of people will turn their noses up to, is the humble beet. Beets are typically a deep, rich ruby red in color, although you can also find orange and two-tone ones (alternating layers of red and white). Vegetables that have deep colors tend to be supersaturated with nutrients, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.

I grow beets in the garden and have come to love the beet greens (tops) as well. Some people say that beets taste like dirt (maybe that’s why I like them, lol), but the tops, when sautéed, taste similar to spinach. Harvesting just a few leaves at a time from several plants throughout the summer and early fall will cause replacement leaves grow, thereby creating a sustainable situation. The leaves can also be added to salads, raw and chopped, therefore retaining their nutritional value.

beet kvas

Kvas: day 1 and ready to ferment.

Some of my favorite ways to use the beet roots is pickling (these can also be canned), roasted and cut into pieces for salads, grated raw into salads, fermented pickling, beet kvas and a cold or hot soup called borscht. Beets also have a natural earthy sweetness to them that pairs beautifully with salty/sour pickling and fermentation.

Pickled Beets
This makes a great cold side dish, especially with summer barbecues or added to a chopped salad. Food Network has a nice Alton Brown pickled beet recipe that calls for roasting the beets first, and then letting them soak in a seasoned brine mixture for up to 7 days before serving. I’ve tried this one and it’s a winner!

beet kvas

Ten days later…

Old Fashioned Fermented Pickled Beets
I’ve tried the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, which calls for whey and it’s just “okay.” I prefer not using whey for fermentation, the results just don’t taste the same as natural fermentation. Here’s a good fermented beets recipe that calls for simply beets, salt and water. Personally, I would also add onions. And fermentation = probiotics!

Borscht
I’ve never actually made this soup, but I have had it a few times in both Russian and Jewish restaurants. In those instances the cold soup was puréed, served with a dollop of sour cream, and I couldn’t identify what was in it other than beets. Served in this way, the soup makes a nice appetizer (as opposed to a meal, which calls for a heartier recipe).

My search on the internet brought up a variety of recipes that include all sorts of ingredients, some with meat, some without. This Borscht recipe from Cooks.com has the best rating and comments from cooks. I am tempted to take the advice in one comment about using tomato paste, fried in butter, rather than canned tomatoes. Note: Try not to use canned anything, unless you have no other option! Fresh is best!

beet kvas

After 10+ days the Kvas is ready to drink. Yum!

Beet Kvas
This is a fermented, naturally carbonated beverage made from only three ingredients: beets, filtered water and salt. The first time I made and tasted this I just knew it was a tonic for the blood. There’s something about the combination of salty-sour-carbonation that I crave at times. And Kvas practically makes itself.

Update: A week in the fridge and the little kvas I have left has turned a brownish red. But it still smells and tastes good, so keep that in mind.

Beet Kvas - no whey!
Print Recipe
A carbonated salty-sour-yet-sweet beverage that can be considered a tonic, or cleansing... or just plain delicious! This will ferment just fine without the whey called for in other recipes.
Servings Prep Time
1.25 quarts (roughly) 20 minutes
Passive Time
1-1/2 weeks or so
Servings Prep Time
1.25 quarts (roughly) 20 minutes
Passive Time
1-1/2 weeks or so
Beet Kvas - no whey!
Print Recipe
A carbonated salty-sour-yet-sweet beverage that can be considered a tonic, or cleansing... or just plain delicious! This will ferment just fine without the whey called for in other recipes.
Servings Prep Time
1.25 quarts (roughly) 20 minutes
Passive Time
1-1/2 weeks or so
Servings Prep Time
1.25 quarts (roughly) 20 minutes
Passive Time
1-1/2 weeks or so
Ingredients
  • 3-4 beets a generous medium size
  • 1-1/2 quarts water filtered
  • 1 TB sea salt (or a little more if you like)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic Optional
Servings: quarts (roughly)
Instructions
  1. Wash beet roots to remove any dirt but don't overdo it, you don't want to remove all the good (lactobacillus) bacteria.
  2. Chop into, roughly, 1" chunks.
  3. Add beets to a half gallon jar.
  4. Add 1 TB sea salt.
  5. Add filtered water to within 1/2" below lip.
  6. Cover with lid and write the date on the jar with a Sharpie.
  7. Allow to ferment, out of direct sunlight, for 1-1/2 weeks or more.
  8. When done, this can be strained, or just serve right out of the jar, chunks and all. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Don't drink this if it smells or looks bad or has mold growing in or on it. Natural fermentation can sometimes go wrong, so be smart! My beets sometimes turn almost black, but there is nothing wrong with them and the kvas smells sweet and earthy. Delicious!

The Kvas could become syrupy towards the bottom of the jar. Just mix it back in before consuming.

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Low Cost Chicken and Beef Stock

chicken stock in jars

Chicken stock in wide mouth jars, ready for the freezer.

There’s no question that bone broths are all the rage these days. And with good reason! You can find plenty of articles explaining that nourishing bone broths, rich in protein, gelatin and minerals, are soothing to the gut and healthy for bones and joints. For someone recovering from surgery or illness that needs to be on a very light or liquid diet, bone broths are the perfect food.

I’ve always cooked a lot, and tended to buy a lot of chicken and beef stock, bouillon or boxed broths. If you buy the organic and free range kind, it will be on the expensive side. Plus, they always taste watered-down. They can also have too much salt and added “natural flavorings” which usually end up loaded with free glutamates. And then there’s the issue of the extra containers to recycle.

A couple of years ago I started making my own bone broths and they were not completely economical. To make chicken stock, I would buy a couple of packages of chicken backs and one of chicken feet at WholeFoods–not known for the most reasonable prices. Sometimes I can find these at Asian Markets, for a better price. For beef, I’d end up at Sprouts as their beef bones are only $2-$3 a pound, compared to WholeFoods at $6 a pound.

Frozen leftover bones and a couple of store-bought

Frozen leftover bones means I don’t have to buy many from the store.

Then one day I got the idea that if I started saving ALL the bones from the meals that we eat, I wouldn’t need to buy much—if any at all—from the store when it came time to make stock. So, I now keep two large plastic bags in the freezer for bones. One is marked poultry, where I keep duck, chicken and turkey bones. The other is marked meat, where I keep beef, lamb and pork bones. I never buy boneless/skinless anything, so the bones add up fairly quickly.

cooked bones

You can see the bones are depleted, starting to break down and the vegetables are now drained of flavor and vitamins.

Putting together the ingredients in the  stock pot is a breeze. I just throw in chunks of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, add vinegar, toss the bones on top, and then fill with enough filtered water to cover everything by an inch or two. Once the water starts to simmer, I find the “sweet spot” on the burner knob that will keep the water simmering but not boiling. I will cook poultry stock for 24 hours or more. Beef stock gets 48 hours or more. During the last half hour or so, I throw in the parsley.

separating bones, meat and vegetables.

Separating vegetables, bones and meat for other uses.

When the stock is done, I turn off the heat and let it cool for about half an hour. Then, using a slotted spoon, I remove as much of the vegetables, bones and meat as possible, placing them in a strainer over a large bowl (or a bowl with a steamer rack in the bottom).

Next I set up a few bowls so I can separate the vegetables (for composting), bits of meat (can be frozen for chicken salad; I feed the beef to my chickens) and bones (for the trash). You don’t have to go through this process, it’s just the way I do things.

strained stock in a pot

My stock pot filled with strained stock.

By the time the strainer is empty, there will be a puddle of more stock in the bottom of the bowl. I pour this into the big pot of stock, then pour the entire pot contents through a fine mesh strainer into another pot or bowl. If you want even the smallest bits of meat removed from your stock, line the strainer with cheesecloth or some other straining fabric (I prefer tea towels or cloth diapers).

At this time you can add salt and pepper to taste. I tend to go very easy on the salt, as I can always add more when I use the stock. With the beef stock, I will refrigerate the stock so the fat will rise to the top and solidify, which is easy to just lift off. This can be saved for cooking purposes. The chicken stock has a lot less fat, so I generally just mix it in well so when separating the stock into jars, they each get an equal amount.

Now the stock is ready to be put into containers for the freezer or to be pressure canned. I recommend using wide-mouth pint canning jars, that are freezer safe. More info can be found on my No More Canned Soup page. You’ll need to follow canning instructions to can your stock if you’re going that route.

Recipes for beef and chicken stock are below.

Beef Bone Broth / Stock
Print Recipe
For extra flavor, you can drizzle a little olive oil on the bones and roast them for about an hour at 400°F before making the stock. This step will add to your prep time...
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
48 hours 48 hours
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
48 hours 48 hours
Beef Bone Broth / Stock
Print Recipe
For extra flavor, you can drizzle a little olive oil on the bones and roast them for about an hour at 400°F before making the stock. This step will add to your prep time...
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
48 hours 48 hours
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
48 hours 48 hours
Ingredients
Servings: quarts
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients, except for parsley and salt & pepper, in a large stock pot.
  2. Heat to a light boil, then adjust the burner so the stock remains at a low simmer. Simmer for 48 hours or more, checking once in a while to make sure you're not losing water. Add more water if needed.
  3. Half an hour before the stock is done, add the parsley.
  4. Using a large slotted spoon, remove bones, meat and vegetables. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth if desired. Add salt & pepper.
  5. Let stock cool in refrigerator to solidify fat for removal. You can refrigerate the pot if you have room, or if you plan to freeze the stock, you can put the stock in jars and put them in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove fat from the top. Freeze jars or pressure can per your canner's instructions (this would entail reheating the stock).
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Chicken Stock
Print Recipe
You can use any combination of chicken backs, feet, leftover poultry bones, leftovers from roasted chicken from the grocery store. Chicken feet will significantly increase the gelatin content of your stock.
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
24 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
24 hours 24 hours
Chicken Stock
Print Recipe
You can use any combination of chicken backs, feet, leftover poultry bones, leftovers from roasted chicken from the grocery store. Chicken feet will significantly increase the gelatin content of your stock.
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
24 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
2+ quarts 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
24 hours 24 hours
Ingredients
Servings: quarts
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients, except for parsley and salt & pepper, in a large stock pot.
  2. Heat to a light boil, then adjust the burner so the stock remains at a low simmer. Simmer for 24 hours or more, checking once in a while to make sure you're not losing water. Add more water if needed.
  3. Half an hour before the stock is done, add the parsley.
  4. Using a large slotted spoon, remove bones, meat and vegetables. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth if desired. Add salt & pepper.
  5. If you find it necessary, let stock cool in refrigerator to solidify fat for removal (chicken stock usually has less fat than beef). You can refrigerate the pot if you have room, or if you plan to freeze the stock, you can put the stock in jars and put them in the refrigerator. Otherwise...
  6. Freeze jars or pressure can per your canner's instructions (this would entail reheating the stock).
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Duck Soup with Wild Rice

duckSoupOkay, you know I love soup and tend to say every recipe I post here is the best, but this one really is! Besides, if a recipe I test or invent is not “the best,” I toss it and you’ll never see it here. Life’s too short. So, trust me: This soup is to-die-for delicious!

Once a year, if I’m lucky, I’ll make a roast duck. There’s usually enough meat left on the bones to make this soup and still use the bones for a future poultry stock. The recipe is a little bit of work, but so worth it. Plus you can freeze the leftovers.

The recipe has two steps. The first is to make the broth, the second is to add the final ingredients that make this a hearty and delicious soup. Add some Einkorn biscuits or some sour dough bread and a little salad and you’ll have a nourishing, satisfying meal.

Here we go:

Duck Soup with Wild Rice
Print Recipe
A hearty and delicious soup, made with a leftover duck carcass, fresh vegetables, wild rice and mushrooms and flavored with smoked ham, sherry and curry powder. Please note that the wild rice needs to be cooked separately, which can be done while waiting for the stock. The rice will take 30-45 minutes.
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts 45 min
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 2-3 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts 45 min
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 2-3 hours
Duck Soup with Wild Rice
Print Recipe
A hearty and delicious soup, made with a leftover duck carcass, fresh vegetables, wild rice and mushrooms and flavored with smoked ham, sherry and curry powder. Please note that the wild rice needs to be cooked separately, which can be done while waiting for the stock. The rice will take 30-45 minutes.
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts 45 min
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 2-3 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts 45 min
Cook Time Passive Time
3-4 hours 2-3 hours
Ingredients
Step 1: Making the Stock
Step 2: The Soup
Servings: quarts
Instructions
  1. Place all the stock ingredients into a large pot. Heat to a boil and then reduce heat so it stays at a simmer. Summer for 2-3 hours, until vegetables are very soft and meat is falling off the bones. Scoop or strain out the vegetables and carcass and return the stock to the pot. Remove any meat from bones and return the meat to the stock. You can freeze the bones for a future poultry stock and compost the spent vegetables.
  2. Sauté the soup ingredients in the butter (don't add the curry or sherry yet) and sauté until the vegs start to soften, 10-15 mins. Add sautéed ingredients to the stock, add curry and sherry, and simmer for 1-1/4 hours. Make seasoning adjustments as needed. Can be thickened with corn starch if desired.
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