Soup Stock Primer: How to Use Scraps & Bones for the Richest Flavor
Photo: Liz Rueven

Soup Stock Primer: How to Use Scraps & Bones for the Richest Flavor

May I suggest that you should already be thinking about making a zero waste soup stock with those meaty turkey bones and pounds of carrot peels, onion skins and celery tops you’ll put aside as you prepare your Thanksgiving feast? What about all of those parsley, dill and cilantro stems you’ll so carefully pluck from the leaves? You should be saving those, too.

Zero Waste broth is an effortless way to use vegetable scraps that might otherwise land in the compost or garbage pile. There are as many versions of this idea as there are resourceful cooks.

Too soon to think about what to cook after the holiday? Start by re-framing this as more of a “toss in the pot, simmer and forget it” kind of project. I wouldn’t exactly call it cooking even if there is heat involved.

(Find links to my favorite Thanksgiving recipes by going to the index at the top of this page. You’ll find Thanksgiving favorites under the holiday tab).

reducing waste in your kitchen
Waste Not: How to get the most from your food

If you like tangible resources and want more ideas about how to reduce food waste in your own kitchen, consider buying (or gifting) Waste Not; How to Get the Most from your Food. These James Beard award winning chefs know how to eek out every last bit of flavor and value from each ingredient. Some of their ideas and lots of recipes blew me away.

Here are some basics to guide you as you think about wasting less in your own kitchens:

Save veggie peels in heavy duty reusable silicon storage bags or PBA free containers in the freezer. Don’t forget mushroom stems and gills, celery tips and tails and stems from all of those herbs you plucked.

Avoid: stinky or bitter vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and bitter greens (really, all of the crucifers). Leave out potato skins which will make your stock murky and starchy. Consider tossing potato skins with some EVOO and salt and roasting them at high heat for delicious crisps, instead.

vegan kosher asparagus soup
Photo: Liz Rueven

Consider: Saving corn cobs for corn soup and asparagus tails for asparagus soup. They will elevate your corn chowder and pureed asparagus soup in magical ways but should be made as stand alone broths. Onion skins may color your stock (I don’t mind) but too many can make your stock bitter. Toss 1-2 into your scraps bag and leave it at that.

vegan kosher corn soup
Photo: Liz Rueven

Beets are better off going into their own scrap bag for use while making borscht or other beet centric dish (risotto, yes!). They will color everything pink, so be ready for it 🙂

zero waste soup stock
Cool stock before portioning into freezer containers.

Vegetable Stock:

How to: Saute or roast aromatics first. Onions, garlic, celery and carrots benefit from this treatment before they are thrown into a large stock pot with the other scraps. This lends deeper flavor to the stock. Add a few pepper corns, a bay leaf, a chunk of fresh ginger and 1 quartered onion if you like. Cover with water and simmer the stock for about 2 hours. Cool and strain.

Tips: Think about how you use stock. If you like to sip it from a cup in the winter, freeze your stock in small containers. If you like to use it as a base for your next soup, freeze in quart containers. Use it as a simmer liquid for your grains and beans? You know what to do.

zero waste soup stock
Don’t assume that you’ll remember the contents of your stock.

Kosher keepers, vegetarians and vegans know the value of a pareve stock so be sure to label clearly as Vegetarian  or Meat if you’ve used bones. It’s safest to label with date, too. Use frozen stock within one year.

Bone Broth:

Before it became fashionable to sip on bone broth, resourceful home cooks and chefs have always known that it lends great flavor as a base for gravies, sauces and soups.

I sometimes order Grow and Behold steaks on the bone plus “meaty” bones and “chicken soup” bones, knowing that my end game is a nutritious and rich bone broth.

How to:  If using raw bones, roast them at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes, flipping them midway. Be sure to scrape up the goodness that sticks to the pan. Place the bones in a large soup pot, cover them with water, adding 2 Tb. of cider vinegar to the liquid. Simmer on LOW for about 24 hours. Add quartered onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic and some peppercorns during the last hour of cooking. Salt cautiously at the beginning and again at the end, to taste.

Slow Cooker: If you have a slow cooker, this is the best tool for making broth. I set mine for 2 hours on high to get things rolling, then reduce to 20 hours on low. If you want more time, simply re-set on low.

Chicken Stock: I save chicken carcasses and larger bones for chicken stock. Consider defatting the gravy from your roast chicken and freezing that in a sealable bag, too. These are the building blocks of a golden and delicious stock. Consider buying a fat separator, which really helps. Alternatively, refrigerate chicken-y gravy overnight and skim the solidified fat off.

You’d be surprised at how a couple of tablespoons of seasoned chicken drippings can flavor your next pot of brown rice or black beans.

cooking with kitchen scraps
Cooking with Scraps by Lindsay-Jean Hard

Another favorite resource is Cooking with Scraps: Turn your Peels, Cores, Rinds and Stems into Delicious Meals. Chanukah is coming!

To add veggie scraps or not? That is the question. Purists suggest adding select scraps for the last 2 hours of simmering. I like to place my chicken bones, a quartered onion, bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic in my slow cooker, cover with water plus a couple of inches, and let it go for about 8-10 hours. After that, I add select scraps from aromatics (celery, onions, carrots and a bay leaf, 5-6 peppercorns) and allow them to simmer for another 2 hours.

If you have kombu on hand, add a 6 inch piece to boost umami. I’ve heard of adding a spent lemon, but haven’t tried. Others suggest adding 1-2 apple cores but I haven’t tried that either.

Salt cautiously in the beginning and add more to taste at the finish. Strain and store as you like.

Note on Turkey bones: My daughter once told me that I was simply too aggressive with a friend who hosted us for Thanksgiving and wanted to throw out her carcass at the end of the feast. While my friend was desperate to clean up her kitchen, I really didn’t want her to waste the potential of that carcass. In the end I took it home, froze it and used it on a snowy day for a delicious turkey stock.

Turkey tastes completely different from chicken and is much fattier. So keep these 2 fowls apart in the soup stock making.

If you can’t make post-Thanksgiving stock within 1-2 days after the holiday, simply freeze the carcass, keep adding to those bags of veggie peels and scraps, and simmer away when you have the time and inclination. I promise that your soups, grains and veggies will be much more delicious if you use your own homemade stock. And you will know that you’re on your way to reducing food waste in your own kitchen.


kosher like me zero waste stock
homemade stock ready for the next soup making day

Note: When readers purchase items through some of the links in this post, Kosher Like Me may benefit by receiving a small percentage of that sale. There is no cost for the buyer. Thanks for supporting this blogging habit of mine.



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