Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Stock Options

by Carolyn Kelly and Anne Marshall


Homemade stock is an invaluable ingredient in a creative kitchen. Keep these two nutritious versions on hand to serve as bases for all sorts of soups and sauces. These recipes fit the schedule of busy cooks. Neither requires much time to prepare, and both keep up to three months frozen. Another benefit of making your own stock is that you can control the salt content. Ready-made products, while quick and convenient, are often high in sodium.

Broths are good for you in other ways, too. A cup of steamy chicken or vegetable broth may not be a cure-all, but don't underestimate its powers. For instance, in chicken stock is the amino acid cysteine, a close relative of a modern drug used to treat respiratory infections and virus infections. There is also evidence that chicken stock relieves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

There are infinite variations of stock recipes. But after searching cuisines all over the world we believe these two traditional ones from southern France are best.

Chicken Stock
Preparation time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
Makes: 4 to 5 cups

1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil
1 stalk celery, thickly sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6 cups water
1 small chicken (about 3 lb.), cut into 4 pieces, skin and excess fat removed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley,
including stalks
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
freshly ground white pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed nonstick 6- or 8-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and onion. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring often, until onion is golden, about 10 minutes.

Add water, chicken, mushroom stems (if using), parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is tender and broth has developed a good flavor, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Remove chicken and strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. (The cooked chicken is extremely tender and the meat can be used for sandwiches or added to the stock to make soup.) Discard solids. Skim off surface fat with a spoon and with strips of paper towels; season with white pepper. If not using stock immediately, cool to room temperature, then chill, covered, in the refrigerator for about 3 hours or overnight; the remaining fat will solidify on the surface and can be spooned off easily.

To concentrate the flavor, boil stock rapidly, uncovered, for 5 minutes over high heat. Store stock, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the freezer for up to three months.

Nutritional Analysis (per cup): 13 calories, 0.5 g protein, 1.2 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 0.3 g carbohydrate, 0.2 mg iron, 0.8 mg cholesterol

Vegetable Stock
Preparation time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
Makes: 4 to 5 cups

1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup cubed turnip or butternut squash
6 cups water
1 cup coarsely chopped mushroom stems (optional)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley, including stalks
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon yeast extract or miso
About 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Follow instructions for Chicken Stock, adding the turnip or squash with the onion and omitting the chicken. When broth has developed a good flavor, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, add yeast extract or miso and stir until it dissolves. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to five days, or in the freezer for up to six months.

Nutritional Analysis (per cup): 9 calories, 0.03 g protein, 1 g fat, 93 mg sodium, 0.07 g carbohydrate, 0 mg iron, 0 mg cholesterol

Adapted from The World's Healthiest Food (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, 1996; $45).

Photography by former managing editor Sabin Gratz/National Gardening Association

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