I’m a little short on creativity this week. Dunno why. But since I can never leave a good recipe alone I knew some ideas would start swirling around my head if I started cooking.
And since I had a ham bone, half a roasted turkey, half a smoked turkey all in my frig, and beef soup bones in my freezer I thought I’d get a start on some homemade soups by making broth. I took my regular soup-making companion into the kitchen with me: 300 Sensational Soups and opened up my mental file of my soup-making experiences.
I have a secret recipe for Black Bean Soup given to me by my sister, given to her by someone who had a restaurant. It is restaurant worthy Black Bean Soup and it starts with making the broth from scratch from smoked ham hocks. I may have mentioned this recipe before. Probably more than once ;)
One of the things that makes this ham broth special is a clove-studded onion. It is peeking out toward the lower left in the picture below. No, you don’t have to stick them in the onion, but if you won’t be straining the stock it makes a handy way to keep track of them. After reading a couple recipes in my go-to soup cookbook, I also added a big pinch of nutmeg (3 quarts of water can take a big pinch, but beware its strength.) Peppercorns, bay leaves, celery… and ALWAYS onion with the skin on. I actually grabbed three big handfuls of stuff out of my broth bag in my freezer.
What? You don’t have a broth bag? Grab a ziptop freezer bag, start adding all the onion peels and cores, carrot ends, celery leaves, etc (never broccoli or eggplant though) whenever you are chopping veg. Then when you need to add some richness to stock, broth, or whatever, throw a handful in. Or two or three. Tastiness without any work or extras from the store!
Part of the ham stock is destined for Asparagus, Ham, and Gruyere Soup. However! I’m not going to be using Gruyere. No, no, no! Nothing against gruyere — love it — but I will be using Cougar Gold, and all natural aged white cheddar-ish cheese that is made by my alma mater, Washington State University at their creamery. Tangy, creamy, slightly nutty, fun-flavored cheese, it will certainly complement the flavors of ham and asparagus just as well as Gruyere, just with more excitement, more school spirit, and more buy-local loyalty.
Remaining ham broth will go in the freezer for that above-mentioned Black Bean Soup or maybe a batch of basic white beans with carrots, onions, and celery. Yum!
Next broth: I took the wing, drumstick and thigh bones from both halves of the turkey (roasted, smoked) to make the turkey broth, and added some leftover chicken broth from my frig that needed using. Fresh carrots, fresh onion, and I added fresh thyme and bay leaf. I used fresh veggies here because I wanted to eat them when the broth was done ;) Meaning, like a snack!
This turkey broth is SO tasty (<– added later) It will go into a soup recipe with roasted poblano: Turkey Green Chile Soup. I kind of stopped thinking when roasted poblano crashed into smoked turkey in my thoughts! YUM! There will be enough left so I can do some risotto or something, too!
Meanwhile, my beef bones roasted by themselves at 450F for half an hour, then I coated 2 large carrots cut into chunks and a large yellow onion (skin on, of course!) cut into wedges with the pan grease and put it all back into the oven for another 30 minutes. The opening picture was taken just at this point. I know, sounds completely unhealthy, doesn’t it???
But once everything goes into some water, the pan gets deglazed and all those drippings added, simmering happens, and then the broth gets chilled and DEFATTED it will have allllllll that flavor with barely any of the unhealthiness. Perfect!
Here’s what it looks like roasted and ready for the stock pot. Hopefully some of that caramelized onion is left by the time a stock pot is available for use, because greasiness aside, that onion is killer-good!!! Sweet as candy, and so are the carrots. This broth will need some assertive, not-sweet flavors — sharp, spicy, salty, tangy — or it will be like dessert and that’s just wrong. Or is it?
I think the mounds of cabbage I have waiting to be used will be a good starting point. I love beef soup with cabbage in it! Some nice acidic non-roasted tomatoes will be good…
… and we’ll see what happens next! :) The soup titled Beef Barley and Mushroom Soup may happen. Yes.
Meanwhile, enjoy some of the beauty of nature in the curves and swirls of this onion and carrot…
Hmm, you might be wondering at the appropriateness of soup in the month of April. Well, since our average temperatures hover in the 50s and 60s through June, soup weather lasts a long time here at our house in western WA state!