Ever feel guilty over unused broccoli stems, mushy tomatoes, or butts of veggies that seem such a shame to throw out? At my house, we can't compost because unfortunately, and grossly, it has attracted (hundreds of) rats in the past. Cleverly eradicated by Steve-sometimes food photographer and exterminator-but that's another story which is totally inappropriate for a food blog.
I first heard of saving stumps and things for broth and stock from Rachel Ray - who, while maybe overexposed, is smart. So I now throw all forms of bones, butts, tips, ends and stems in a big plastic freezer bag (kept in the freezer) instead of my garbage can. When the bag is full, I cook it up into the most delicious soup base I ever had. And I do this in a crock pot overnight, which makes it really low-maintenance.
This is my golden delicious jar of goodness, made fresh last night.
Here's how easy it is, followed by my favorite veggie-broth recipe of all time:
Sometimes I collect vegetables and bones separately, sometimes I mix them. This mix is all veg.
Pictured: Aging (but not rotting) tomatoes, parsley stems, broccoli stems, zucchini ends and centers, wilting celery, and asparagus ends.
Place all items in a crock pot and cover with water.
This batch, I seasoned with a small handful of golden raisins (mine are old and grainy but will do just fine), whole peppercorns, dried garlic, one bay leaf, and a good pinch or two of salt.
Sometimes, I don't season the broth at all so I can choose my spices when making soup. Either way, a little salt and pepper is always a good thing.
Cook on your crock pot's lowest setting for 10-12 hours. I like to give mine a stir in the morning and remove it from the heat to rest for a few hours. When cool, strain through a colander, then through a coffee filter. I keep mine in jars in the fridge for now or the freezer for later - just be sure to leave some room for expansion if freezing!
If you're making a stock out of bones, follow the same recipe. The fat will rise to the top of your container and harden when chilled. You can either scoop the hardened fat right off the top, or use bits of it for body and flavor.
Now, try this soup - it's yummy!
Egg Lemon Soup
4 cups of vegetable broth (any type of broth will do)
1/2 cup white rice, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pepper
Fresh oregano and/or dill (optional)
Extra squeeze of lemon (also optional)
Simmer the rice and salt in the broth until the rice is tender (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat. Immediately pour beaten eggs into the broth slowly, in a spiral. The eggs will cook in about a half minute. Stir in your lemon juice. Adjust your salt and pepper. If desired, add a small amount of finely chopped fresh oregano and/or fresh dill. I always give mine an extra shot of lemon, but many people I've fed prefer it without.
This soup is really good anywhere between hot or barely warmer than room temp. Enjoy!