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STOCK INVESTMENTS  Friday, November 20, 2009

Soup season has arrived here in the North East (and our Midwest friends were probably putting up a pot in September when they had their first snowfall). It’s easy to add this comforting course to your weeknight menu by making stock in advance and storing in your freezer. Come dinnertime, just defrost it in the microwave, and you’re ready to saute and simmer some vegetables or leftover chicken. Paired with a salad, it’s a healthy, quick and easy way to balance all those holiday treats you’ll be eating from now until the New Year. I’m sure you’ve heard chefs say never cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink. Well, the same goes for water, so use only the best and purest when putting up your next pot.

Easy Everyday Vegetable Stock
Feel free to add whatever vegetable scraps you have around too, including mushroom stems, corn cobs, etc., adding more water if necessary.
makes about 4 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ribs celery, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 dried bay leaf
8 to 10 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
6 cup cold water
  1. Heat a deep stock pot over medium flame. Add oil, then toss in celery, carrots, onion, garlic and other vegetables you're using. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until the carrots begin to caramelize and the mixture becomes very fragrant.
  2. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and salt. Stir to mix well, then slowly pour in the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are extremely tender (read: they've released all their flavor). Pour through a metal sieve or strainer, discarding cooked vegetables (I always hate this step, and always intend to puree them to thicken sauces and soups, but...). You're ready to use for soup, as a consomme, or store in the refrigerator (up to one week) or the freezer (up to two months).
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
adapted from Jenny Linford's From My Mother's Kitchen

For stock:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds chicken legs & thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, bottom white part only
a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
1 dried bay leaf

For soup:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 celery stalks sliced 1-inch thick
3 ounces fine eggs noodles or spaghetti, broken into pieces
¼ cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd pan. When done, return chicken back to pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Pour in 6 cups of cold water, add leek, parsley and bay leaf and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for one hour.
  2. Skim fat from surface of stock. Using tongs or a large slotted spoon, remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Pour stock through a fine strainer, and discard vegetables and herbs. Let chicken cool, then remove meat from bones and roughly chop; set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil over medium-low heat in stockpot. Add onion, carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, then pour stock over vegetables. Bring to a boil, then add noodles and cook until desired tenderness, about 8 minutes for al dente. Add chopped chicken, stir in chopped parsley and cook until chicken is heated through. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.