Category Archives: soup recipes

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

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...
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time2 d
Total Time4 d 1 hr
Servings: 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs beef bones (or mixed beef, lamb and pork)
  • 2 large carrots large chunks
  • 2 large celery sticks large chunks
  • 1 large onion in chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic no need to remove skins
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 1/4 cup vinegar apple cider is my favorite
  • filtered water enough to cover the bones & vegs
  • 1/2 bunch parsley w/stems
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients, except for parsley and salt & pepper, in a large stock pot.
  • 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.
  • Half an hour before the stock is done, add the parsley.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remove fat from the top. Freeze jars or pressure can per your canner's instructions (this would entail reheating the stock).

Chicken Stock

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.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 d
Total Time2 d 1 hr
Servings: 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chicken bones See description above
  • 2 large carrots large chunks
  • 2 large celery stalks large chunks
  • 1 large onion cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic no need to peel
  • 2 tb vinegar apple cider is my favorite
  • filtered water to cover
  • 1/2 bunch parsley stems included
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients, except for parsley and salt & pepper, in a large stock pot.
  • 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.
  • Half an hour before the stock is done, add the parsley.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Freeze jars or pressure can per your canner's instructions (this would entail reheating the stock).

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

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.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 2 quarts

Ingredients

Step 1: Making the Stock

  • 1 roast duck carcass preferably with some meat on it
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 med onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, large chunks
  • 2 whole carrots, large chunks
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Kitchen Bouquet optional
  • 1 bay leaf
  • filtered water enough to cover the bones & vegs, 2-3 quarts
  • salt & pepper to taste

Step 2: The Soup

  • 1/4 c butter
  • 2 c cooked wild rice (about 3/4 or 4 oz c raw)
  • 2 tbsp almonds, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 whole carrot, diced
  • 1 c mushrooms sliced or quartered
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 c sherry
  • corn starch optional, for thickening if you want

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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.

More soup! This time it’s Beefed Up (or not) Mushroom Barley

Not very pretty, but it will taste great, trust me!

When we have leftover steak (or chicken, turkey or pork) I tend to freeze it rather than reheat for not-so-exciting leftovers. Then later on I use it for soup, stew or green chili. Today I cleaned out the freezer and found a nice piece of frozen steak. It was marinated in one of my favorite concoctions and so decided that mushroom barley soup with beef would be on tonight’s menu.

I once read that you could call yourself a gourmet cook if you can make a delicious and satisfying meal from whatever you have on hand — no trips to the grocery store. Another confession. I am now so old (and have been cooking for most of my life) that I know what tastes good together.

My typical soup/stew base of carrots, onion, celery and garlic.

But I do love creating something new from what’s available. I think Thomas Edison would have liked me. [Little known fact: he really didn’t invent anything, but he made other people’s ideas better]. And I’m starting to wonder if this blog is really about urban farming, or simply food. Food to grow, food to cook, food to eat. Am I a foodie or an urban farmer? I think they just go together naturally. Whatever you call me, here’s the recipe.

Mushroom Barley Soup

You can make this with out without the beef. Either way it is hearty, delicious and nutritious!
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: mushroom barley soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

Soup Base Ingredients

  • One chopped onion, 2-3 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1-2 pressed garlic cloves

Other Ingredients

  • 1/-2 to 1 lb chopped leftover or fresh steak optional
  • 4-6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 c pearled barley
  • parsley, bay leaf, oregano optional
  • 1/2 c sherry or red wine optional
  • 4-8 cups stock (beef or vegetable) Amount depends on how much soup you want.

Instructions

  • If you are using raw beef, sauté cut up meat in olive oil. If you are using cooked beef, you can sauté it with base vegetables. When the vegetables soften, you can add the stock.
  • Add the barley and cook for 20-30 minutes, until they soften. Add mushrooms, wine, herbs and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve with some good crusty buttered bread. Yum!