It’s all about the stockBy LISA IRELAND,
It is January and our Mississippi temperatures are finally dropping (a little). I start craving soup when it’s chilly outside. After the first leaves fall, I get out my crockpot and start making soup. It is my comfort food of choice! Give me a bowl of soup, add in some bread or crackers, and I consider it a perfect winter meal.
I love to make homemade stock, and hate tossing any bones or carcasses away without first capturing their yummy flavor. My family eats more leftovers and re-configured dishes than anyone should, but I just cannot let good food go to waste. This is especially true of all hambones and chicken carcasses. Both are almost always boiled down to make some sort of second dish. Recently, a friend was touting her new instapot. She said you can have perfect stock in 20 minutes!
Ham Stock: My reputation as a “bone scavenger” is so well established that while a friend was at her in-laws for Sunday lunch she called me to see if I wanted their leftover honey baked ham bone. I blushed but of course said “yes, when can I come and get it?” I had no pride, but I also had some delicious ham bone soup.
Ham Bone Soup
One large leftover hambone, preferably from a honey baked ham
1 cup chopped ham
1 lb. dry white beans such as cannellini
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 t. hot sauce, more to taste
1 t. each, dried oregano, basil, parsley, and thyme
Salt/pepper to taste
Combine ham bone and beans in four cups water; simmer for one hour until beans are tender. Remove the bone and add remaining ingredients. Serve warm with lots of cornbread. Feel free to add or omit any other vegetables you like. Good additions like: kale, turnips, or any root vegetables.
Chicken Stock: A friend recently shared a great suggestion for homemade chicken stock. Whenever she bakes a whole chicken, she always takes the carcass and any leftover meat and juices, and throws it in her crockpot after dinner. Add a little water, an onion, carrots and celery and let it cook on low overnight. The next day, it is a rich and delicious chicken stock. Perfect, useful and so easy.
One of my favorite old Jackson restaurants was Swenson’s and this cheese soup reminds me of theirs.
3 cans cream of chicken soup
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch, green onions, chopped including green tops
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 lb. processed cheese, cubed (I use Velveeta)
Cook onions and celery in butter until soft, add cream of chicken soup and broth. Slowly add in cheese and cook over low heat until melted. Add pepper to taste.
Beef Stock: Several years ago my husband and I attended a friend’s birthday dinner at a local steak house. They offered an amazing porterhouse steak. The guest of honor decided to try it, and it was quite a piece of meat. It must have been about three or four inches thick. I do not think I have ever seen a cut of meat that large.
After our delicious meal, we began remarking on all the leftovers including the bone from the porterhouse steak. I could not imagine the restaurant tossing such a treasure. After more talk and a little more wine, a challenge was made: Could I make something delicious with the leftover bone? I accepted the challenge and left with a very large doggy bag.
The next day, I simmered the steak bone with an onion and a few stalks of celery for several hours. It made a very meaty and delicious stock which was used to make delicious onion soup. The soup was shared to rave reviews, and I vowed to always take home a doggy bag.
Beefy Onion Soup
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup flour
6 cups thinly sliced onions
1 ½ t. salt
½ t red pepper
4 bay leaves
½ t. each, dried thyme, oregano, basil
2 T. chopped fresh garlic
2 quarts beef stock (see recipe above)
½ cup white cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup yellow, extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cups French bread, cubed and lightly toasted
Combine oil and flour in a large stock pot. Stir constantly over medium heat to form a light roux. Add onions and other spices and cook stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. Carefully pour in stock and cook covered for about 1 hour. Remove bay leaves.
When ready to serve, heat soup, add cheeses and serve in bowls topped with toasted bread.
Vegetable Stock: While you can purchase canned versions of all the meat-based stocks, the homemade version is much better. The same is true for vegetable stock. Throw some veggies in a pot and simmer on low for a couple of hours. Drain and use.
Artichoke and Green Chile Bisque
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
1 small can of green chilies, drained
8 ozs. Cream cheese (can use low fat or fat free)
2 cups or 1 can vegetable stock
¼ cup chopped green onions
Salt/pepper to taste
Combine artichokes, chilies and cream cheese in a food processor and puree. Transfer to a saucepan and whisk in stock. Heat over medium low until cheese is melted and soup is simmering. Add more stock if soup is too thick. Stir in green onions and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Soup would not be complete without a piece of bread for dunking. This is my mother-in- law’s recipe for cornbread. It is the best and is a must with any winter soup.
1 cup stone ground cornmeal
1 heaping Tbs. flour
1 t salt
1 rounded tsp. sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Baking powder
1 cup plus 1 Tbs. buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 450. Mix all wet ingredients and mix all dry ingredients. Then beat together until well mixed. Put about 2 T oil in a well-seasoned iron skillet, swirl so all sides are coated. Heat oil on stovetop until very hot. Carefully pour oil in to mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into skillet and bake at 450 for 15 minutes until browned on top.