A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Broth for Winter Soups and more

I never let the bones of a roast or poultry escape my broth pot.  Homemade soup broth is easy, healthy and delicious.  It's also thrifty:  A 5-pound chicken yields 3 quarts of broth.  With Swansons broth at $3,00+/carton, you can deduct $9.00 from the cost of a 5-pound chicken by making broth with the carcass.  (and you will have 6-8 cups of chicken pieces).  It's how I justify buying the more-expensive, free-range chickens from farmers market.  There is a remarkable difference in their taste and quality. 

For the Broth: (note weight of meat/poultry from package)
Put roasted bones in a large cooking pot and add 1 quart of water per pound of original weight. Add a ½ cup of chopped onion, 1/3 cup each of celery and carrot pieces for each quart of water, (more or less of each veggie is okay). Bring water to boiling*, turn down heat and let it slow-bubble for three hours (at least 3, not more than 4). Remove from heat and strain broth. Cool a bit, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight--until fat on top turns solid.

*If you want to get all of the meat off the bones, take it out of the water just as it starts to boil. Pull off the remaining meat pieces and return the bones to the pot.

Broth can be used in place of water for anything you're making.  I always use it for cooking rice, couscous, lentils, etc.  If a recipe calls for water, I substitute an appropriately-flavored broth.  I often cook two roasts or chickens at a time and freeze or can (lots of) broth so it's always available. 

I make all kinds of broth, but chicken is the most versatile.  By adding boullion cubes or soup base (1 cube or teaspoon for each cup of broth), some meat, veggies and herbs; you can throw together a variety of delicious, hearty soups in no time.  Here are some suggestions for soups using chicken broth:
Chicken Noodle:  broth with chicken boullion, pieced chicken, veggies, egg noodles, Italian herb seasoning, dill weed and pepper
Taco Soup: broth with chicken boullion, pieced chicken, salsa, black beans, cilantro (tsp/quart of broth) and cumin (1/4 tsp/quart)
Clam Chowder (or substitute any seafood): broth with clam base, clams, veggies, thyme (tsp/quart of broth), dill (1/2 tsp/quart), parsley (1/2 tsp/quart), pinch of garlic powder
Thai Soup:  broth with red or green curry paste, veggies (spinach and peas), lime juice (2 TB per quart of broth), ginger (1/4 tsp per quart), fish sauce (3 tsp per quart), brown sugar (2 tsp per quart), pinch of garlic, coconut milk (1 can per quart)

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