Soup-er Delicious Recipes to Get You Through the Final Weeks of Winter

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a soup man. Maybe it’s because it’s a comforting meal that works wonders on a cold, or maybe it’s just because I’m a fan of mushy vegetables. Either way, it’s a simple dish I enjoy so much that I eventually figured I needed to learn how to make it from scratch.

Now, when I say that making soup from scratch is simple, I mean it’s really simple. 

When making soup, you have to start with a base of broth or stock, and there is, in fact, a difference between the two. Stock is typically made out of bones, while broth uses meat. I’ll be going over both.

Chicken Broth

As much as I’d love to be using a natural, free range chicken for this recipe, I can’t. For one, I’m a college student who makes almost enough money to pay rent, and for another, I can’t find an independent butcher anywhere in Des Moines. So instead, I got a rotisserie chicken from a Walmart down the street.

After removing one breast for myself for dinner, I broke down the rest of the bird into two wings, two legs, two thighs and the remaining breast. Then I cut out the spine with a sturdy pair of kitchen shears. I put the thighs and breast aside for later while I started the broth.

Chicken wings are particularly good for broth since they have a lot of cartilage in them, which is great for flavor but not that much fun to eat by itself. In the biggest pot I had, I brought some olive oil up to heat before browning the wings and legs on all sides. I chopped up the spine and added that too. Ideally, you would really want more chicken bits to add, because just the wings, legs and spine made for a weaker broth.

Then I threw in some roughly chopped carrots and celery, a quartered unpeeled onion, a leek, a couple bay leaves, rosemary and thyme, and some whole peppercorns. I poured water over the top until everything was covered, then I put it on the stovetop to bring it to a boil.

Once rolling, I turned the heat down until it was just simmering and then covered it to let it sit. This took a couple hours; the longer you leave it on, the more flavorful it will be, but at the same time it’ll reduce more, so be careful. When that was done, I strained it through a mesh sieve and cheesecloth.

Once the broth is finished, it couldn’t be simpler to turn it into soup. This is where the rest of the chicken comes in. Shred the breasts and thighs into manageable pieces and stick it in the broth. Then boil some noodles, add some freshly chopped celery or carrots if you want, really just do your own thing. But make sure to add some salt, since the broth has none.

And now that I have that out of the way, the rest of these recipes will be a lot simpler. This is because (surprise, surprise) most stocks are made the same way. All it takes is water, some aromatics and some kind of meat or bone. Or in the case of this next one, all it takes is water and some aromatics.

Vegetable Stock

Again, this is basically the exact same process. Heat some oil in a pot, then cook the vegetables in it instead of the chicken. I used a celery heart, 2 medium white onions, 2 carrots, a handful of chopped mushrooms, a leek, a half dozen cloves of garlic, then a couple bay leaves, parsley and whole peppercorns. Add one gallon of water and let it simmer until it’s reduced by about half. Then I just strained it in the same way I did for the chicken broth.

Pork Stock

Not sure what to do with all those spare pig bones you have laying around? Try pork stock! The best way to start is by roasting the bones at your highest oven temperature (450 degrees Fahrenheit for me). 

After that, just make stock with them. These bones hold a lot of flavor by themselves, so they actually don’t need as many vegetables as the other ones. You’d be fine with just an onion, a couple cloves of garlic and some peppercorns. If you want, you can add a couple carrots to bring a little sweetness back, but I stuck with a savorier flavor.

Now, if you want to know what you can make with a pork stock, look no further than the most quintessential college food in existence: ramen. Tonkotsu is traditional pork ramen and is often served with chashu (pork belly), negi (sliced leek), tamago (egg) and a whole bunch of other things I didn’t have in my kitchen. But even using just those three sides and the noodles from one of those 39 cent pouches, this was still 10 times better than any ramen I’ve ever eaten with a flavor packet.

Recipes

Chicken Broth

Servings: 8

Prep: 20 mins

Cook time: 2 ½ hours

            1 rotisserie chicken

            2 carrots

            2 celery stalks

            1 leek

            1 medium white onion

            1 ½ gallons of water

            4 bay leaves

3 Tbsp. rosemary 

3 Tbsp. thyme

3 Tbsp. peppercorns

Break down rotisserie chicken into standard parts and remove spine. Sear legs and wings in stock pot, before roughly chopping and adding spine, aromatics and spices. Top with water, bring to a boil then simmer for 2 – 2 ½ hours or reduced by 1/3.  Shred remaining chicken while waiting for broth.  When broth is done, strain through fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth. Let cool completely before using.

Vegetable Stock

Servings: 8

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook time: 2 ½ hours

                        1 Tbsp. butter

                        1 Tbsp. Olive oil

                        1 celery heart

                        2 carrots, roughly chopped

                        2 medium white onions

                        1 leek

                        4 Tbsp. parsley

3 bay leaves

3 Tbsp. whole peppercorns

                        1 head of garlic

                        1 handful of mushrooms

                        1 gallon water

Sautee all ingredients in olive oil and butter. Cover with water and simmer, until reduced by half. Strain solids out, let cool.

Pork Stock

Servings: 8

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours

                        3-4 lbs. pork bones

                        1 medium white onion

                        4 cloves garlic

                        3 Tbsp. whole peppercorns

                        1 carrot (optional)

                        1 ½ gallons water

Roast pork bones at highest oven temperature possible for 15 minutes. Add all ingredients to stock pot, with water and cover. Simmer for as long as possible, until at least reduced by half. Strain out solids and let cool.

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