EAT BETTER, SPEND LESS: Soups and Broths: A Timely Stock Tip
Produce it, market it, offer coupons and they will buy.
Until a few years ago, cooks based half-homemade soups on canned broth, bouillon powder or cubes. Stock was a liquid French chefs simmered on the back burner. Their stock pots contained vegetable parings, bones from cooked and raw meats, pan drippings wilted herbs, shriveled parsnips, other throw-aways. After several hours the liquid was reduced to a flavorful essence used for sauces, gravies and, of course, soup.
A gallon of stock cost only the gas or electricity.
Food producers latched onto the concept. Now counters are heavy with broth/stock in cartons costing more that $2 per quart. Chicken, beef, vegetarian, low-fat, low-salt; unless sipped plain they fade into a recipe where canned or granulated at less than half the price works just as well.
But we see words like Wolfgang Puck, organic, free-range, and we succumb to buy-or-die. Yet the Puck brand contains "cane juice solids" (sweeteners) and chicken "flavor." Swanson Certified Organic lists sugar, canola oil, flavoring, carrot, onion and potato powders. Worst of all, College Inn Light & Fat Free Chicken Broth contains MSG, mono and diglycerides, xanthan gum, wheat, chicken fat and dextrose.
But what a cute box. And how convenient.
You just can't afford not to buy it.
Sure you can.
What's in the stock pot reveals how you eat. Pizza crusts and cold French fries do not make good stock. Ditto celery hearts and peeled mini carrots. Salad from a bag won't leave tomato and green pepper ends or a cabbage core. Boneless, skinless chicken parts do not have wings or necks, and burgers don't have bones.
Therefore, by taking a few minutes for simple prep you save money on both ends, as well as controlling additives.
Collect stock ingredients in a container. Add liquid from canned vegetables and water from cooking fresh or frozen vegetables. Refrigerate until you have enough to make several quarts of stock. Toss in a few garlic cloves and a whole onion. Simmer partially covered for at least an hour. Strain and season. If flavor seems thin, stir in a spoonful of chicken or beef bouillon powder. Use as soup base, in stuffings, casseroles, or as liquid for cooking rice.
Stock freezes well. And at least this stock is a guaranteed investment.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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