And for our next Deprocessed December recipe, here’s something that I use frequently as a soup base, to cook rice for extra nutrients and flavor, and to thin mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or other vegetables: vegetable stock.
A lot of recipes call for chicken or beef or vegetable stock. For most recipes, I substitute vegetable stock for chicken or beef just because of the environmental benefits of eating less meat, but no matter what type of soup stock you’re buying, it gets pricey. You can expect to pay at least $3.00 for a 32 oz. container (about 4 c.).
My favorite butternut squash soup recipe (see upcoming post) calls for 4 cups of stock, for instance. Lauren’s recently-posted recipe for Spiced Stuffed Acorn Squash asks for 2 c. of the stuff. Even though I use stock a lot in my cooking, I have a hard time putting it into my grocery cart because I figure I’m basically paying for water with flavoring.
Instead, clean out the refrigerator!
I used to compost all the extra vegetables rolling around (or mushing around) in the bottom of my refrigerator’s vegetable drawer (see previous post about our prolific composting habits). But there’s a better thing to do with the limp celery and the carrots that are on their way out, and this allows you to control the amount of salt and type of ingredients in your cooking.
- Leftover Vegetables (nothing actually rotten, just veggies that can’t pass for fresh): carrots, celery, peppers, mushrooms, parsley, kale, onions, garlic, parsnips, leeks (I would avoid starchy veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes because they will thicken the soup and you won’t get a clear broth)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 – 8 c. of water (depending on number of veggies and size of pot)
- spices (I used leftover fresh thyme that was drying out in my fridge and needed to be composted)
- Fill a stockpot with water and turn heat on medium-high.
- Chop veggies into large pieces (quarter the onions, halve the mushrooms, etc.) and put in pot.
- Stir in salt.
- Boil for an hour or until the liquid turns golden-brown.
- Scoop out the veggies and compost them. Then freeze the broth that’s left (I recommend cutting the tops off of whipping cream or half and half contains and washing them out, then freezing stock in these–cover with tinfoil. They’re a convenient size for the freezer and it’s a great reuse of something you usually chuck in the garbage!).
After two hours of being in the kitchen, I had vegetable broth made with the wilted veggies, stew made with the good veggies (enough for 4 meals), and pureed carrots for Little Bear (I’ve been making all her food, and I swear it’s easier than cooking for myself–I’ll tell you more in an upcoming post). I had also washed all the dishes while the broth and stew were boiling away. “I am,” I told my husband, “a domestic goddess today.” He did not disagree.