I love making soup – it’s so satisfying and a regular sized batch usually yields enough to enjoy right away with some left over to tuck away in the freezer. For me, there is one hard and fast rule to making really good soup: the better the stock, the more flavourful the soup. Canned or boxed broth is fine – especially the low-sodium versions – but you really can’t beat homemade stock for rich, hearty flavour. I’ve learned a few great tricks to make better stock; these tips apply equally to any kind of meat stock.
- Freeze and save up your bones, carcasses, etc. until you have a couple of litres worth of scraps.
- When ready to make stock, throw the frozen bones into a baking pan and roast at 350F for about 45 minutes, until the bones are golden brown and your whole house smells fabulous. If you think of it, flip the bones over once or twice during roasting.
- Tip the bones and pan juices into a large stock pot. Add some celery leaves if you have them, an onion cut in half and a few grinds of salt & pepper.
- Add water to the pot so the bones are barely covered. Too much water produces a very diluted flavour; this is probably the most common stock-making mistake.
- Put the stock pot on high heat and cover until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and remove the cover. Let simmer for 90 minutes; you want the stock to evaporate and reduce, concentrating the flavour. Stir periodically.
- Turn off the heat and let the stock cool slightly. Strain the liquid into a large bowl.
- Put the stock in the fridge to cool thoroughly. This will make it much easier to skim off the fat that floats to the surface. A really easy way to do this is to lay a strip of paper towel right on the congealed surface; the fat will adhere to the paper and then you can remove and discard. Repeat as necessary with fresh strips of paper towel. Don’t skip this step unless, of course, you like greasy-tasting stock.
- If you enjoy finicky jobs, pick over the bones for any little bits of meat that you can reserve and add to a future soup. Your frugal ancestors will be proud of you.
- If you want a really clear stock, you can strain it with a sieve at this point (I don’t usually bother with this step).
- Once the stock is cool and the fat has been skimmed off, it’s ready to use in your favourite soup recipe, or you can freeze it for later.