On Friday, I wrote about nostalgiancholy being the predominant emotion of the season for me. And that holds true. But as the mornings grow misty and frost etches the windowpanes, I also feel the desire to find abundance in frugality, joy in what we already have. One way to do both, I’ve discovered, is to create a variety of economical stocks from scraps I’ve accumulated that then become the base for soups (and whole grain risottos and sauces and . . . ) all winter long.

soup-scraps-vignette

Great ideas to snip and save in the freezer for food-scraps stocks are:

  • Leek trimmings
  • Rinds of hard cheeses
  • Heels of prosciutto, pancetta or salami
  • Shrimp or lobster shells
  • Chicken carcasses and wings
  • Beef or pork bones
  • Mushroom stems

And while you can feel free to raid the produce drawer for anything a bit beyond its prime, the golden rule is not to use anything slimy, moldy or smelly.

Formula for a Scraps Stock

  • Char a halved onion, cut side down, with 1/8 cup of unpeeled aromatics (like garlic, ginger, shallots, lemongrass and the like, depending upon the flavor profile you’re shooting for) in a large stock pot over medium heat until well colored, about 5 minutes.
  • Add a total of 4 cups additional coarsely chopped vegetable scraps (leek tops, celery, carrots, mushrooms stems, etc. in any combination) and shells or carcasses, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add 10 cups water, herbs (like bay leaves, thyme and rosemary) and 1 tablespoon miso, and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add in any cheese, cured meat scraps or dried mushrooms.
  • Simmer for anywhere from 40 minutes (for vegetable stocks) to overnight (for chicken or beef stocks)

Note that while stocks should be full-flavored, they are intentionally underseasoned (unlike broths) in order to make them super versatile. This gives you freedom later to reduce the stock or use it in a highly seasoned dish without it imparting too much saltiness.

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