Quick Stock and Soup

During your soup prep, you can make a quick stock just for your evening meal—or to share with housebound family and neighbors. Get stock and soup recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I always have containers of various soup stocks in my chest freezer, just waiting for me to pull out and add to risotto, sauces, bean dishes, and chowders. But even my 5.5-cubic-foot chest freezer may be a luxury in your home. That doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the benefits of homemade stock.

By tacking just a little extra time onto your soup prep, you can make a quick stock just for your evening meal—no storage required. Quick stocks have many bonuses. They suck extra flavor and nutrients out of your soup scraps. That flavor changes every time you make a quick stock, aligning with the ingredients of your soup. Your soup will taste far better than if you just poured in water and far less salty than if you used store-bought bouillon or broth. All those benefits come at the cost of a few minutes spent on prep and a few cents spent on basic ingredients.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 3 fresh ingredients plus your soup scraps and some aromatics.
1. Sauté your stock base.
2. Add your scraps, water, and aromatics.
3. Cook, strain, and use.

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Quick Top-to-Root Stock

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
This is a basic recipe, giving you the ratios and techniques that I’ve found to work best for a tasty quick soup stock. For variations, read the Tips & Tricks that follow this post’s recipes.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery rib (optional)
reserved trimmings from soup vegetables and herbs (see below)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 cups cold water

In a stockpot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Coarsely chop the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften and brown. While they cook, prep the soup vegetables and herbs (see below), adding the trimmings to the stockpot.

When the stock ingredients are beginning to brown, add the stock aromatics and water. Bring the stock to a boil over high heat, and then lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Immediately strain the stock through a colander. Makes about 6 cups.

Tips & Tricks
  • Make sure the vegetables are clean, but you don’t need to peel them; just spend a few seconds chopping them up and throwing them in the pot.
  • I typically don’t sauté my stock vegetables, preferring a lighter flavor. But it makes sense to do so for a stock that cooks quickly. You’re busy prepping your soup vegetables during that time anyway. By the time the stock is ready, all of your soup ingredients will be mise en place and you’ll be enjoying a glass of your favorite cooking beverage.
  • Be careful when straining stock—the hotter it is, the faster it will do its job in your soup but the more likely it is to splash and burn. Once you get used to making quick stock, you can likely nail the timing so that you strain the stock straight into the soup pot; otherwise, strain it into another pot and keep warm until ready to use.
  • Quick stocks aren’t just for soup. My students and I often make them from mixed vegetables, mushrooms, or shellfish in my risotto workshops.

During your soup prep, you can make a quick stock just for your evening meal—or to share with housebound family and neighbors. Get stock and soup recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

During your soup prep, you can make a quick stock just for your evening meal—or to share with housebound family and neighbors. Get stock and soup recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.Minestrone is one of my sister’s go-to meals; every time I visit, there seems to be a batch on the stove, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer. Her recipe has evolved from one by the eminent Alice Waters in The Art of Simple Food. Waters essentially makes a quick stock directly in the soup pot as she builds the soup. But it’s not a top-to-root recipe; all of the trimmings presumably end up in the compost. If you want to use your scraps, it’s worth dirtying a second pot. I’ve built on Waters’ idea, as well as some of my other favorite soup cooks, and created a minestrone recipe that uses a quick scrap stock.

My sister says she always cooks a double batch of minestrone. Lately, she’s been making triple batches and freezing the soup in quart-size containers to leave on porch steps for our self-quarantined parents and her elderly, housebound neighbors. I’m always amazed by her “it takes a village” approach, especially in times of crisis. Whether your feeding just your family or others in need, this is the perfect soup to make today.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You just need a bunch of veg, some herbs, beans, and your quick stock.
1. Prep the veg while you cook the quick stock.
2. Cook the aromatics.
3. Cook in the stock, veg, and beans.
4. Season, top with cheese, and enjoy.

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Top-to-Root Minestrone

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
3 cloves garlic, trimmed, peeled, and minced
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
1 15-ounce can of tomatoes with juice, chopped as needed
3/4 pound spinach, trimmed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 pound fresh or frozen snap beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups Quick Top-to-Root Stock, plus more as needed
2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
up to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan for serving

Prep your vegetables as indicated. As you work, add all scraps to your Quick Top-to-Root Stock pot.

In a separate pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, garlic, herbs, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the stock, leeks, and snap beans; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and tomatoes; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the canned beans and spinach; cook a final 5 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings, and remove the bay leaf before serving. Garnish each bowl with olive oil and Parmesan. Serves 8.

Tips & Tricks
  • In my house, garlic, carrots, and potatoes are dry stored; zucchini, tomatoes, and snap beans are frozen. I’m likely to have both canned and dried cannellini beans in the pantry. In a pinch, you can use frozen spinach and sub onions for leeks.
  • Canned beans speed up this recipe, but dried beans are cheaper, take up less storage space, and can be cooked ahead. Just 1 cup of dried beans gives you enough for this soup.
  • The quick stock recipe makes more stock than you might need for this soup, but I always like to have a little extra in case the soup is too thick—initially or when you reheat the leftovers.
  • Minestrone has always been a pantry soup: for many people, every batch is different. Like Fresh Improv Soup, it’s just about finding balance and using what’s at hand. Swap pasta or leftover cooked meat for some veg. After cleaning out the garden, use radicchio, cabbage, and fresh herbs. Chop some bell pepper and olives and stir in some frozen Basil Pesto Base when you need a fresh flavor. And it’s always better with slices of Sourdough Cabin Bread for dipping.

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