There’s nothing better on a cold wintry day than a hot bowl of soup.
And just about every recipe for soup starts with one thing: stock. Vegetable stock, chicken stock or beef stock. And while you can buy those in boxes or cans, starting with the homemade version is cheaper and more delicious, and you can control the sodium level yourself.
In fact, with my version of vegetable stock, it’s practically free, using water and scraps from vegetables you’ve used in other dishes. If you cook on a regular basis, then you can save up things like onion skins, potato peels, carrot peels, pepper stems and mushroom stalks over a couple days. If you don’t cook for many people on a regular basis, you can do what I do, and throw the peels in a plastic bag in the freezer over a couple of weeks until you have enough.
Once you’ve got your stock, you can freeze it in 2-cup amounts in quart-sized freezer bags (freeze them lying down for stacking), or even two-tablespoon amounts in an ice cube tray for adding to sauces. Then use it up in a variety of soups: mushroom, French onion, lentil, chicken and wild rice, butternut squash, and my personal favorite: mushroom barley.
Remember when cooking, however, that this stock has no sodium and your soup will need to be generously salted.
Onion skins and ends
Carrot peels and stalks
8-12 cups water
Place all the vegetables in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for two hours.
Strain out the vegetables, reserving the stock. Store in the fridge or freezer until use.