Turn Scraps into Soup

On Friday, I wrote about nostalgiancholy being the predominant emotion of the season for me. And that holds true. But as the mornings grow misty and frost etches the windowpanes, I also feel the desire to find abundance in frugality, joy in what we already have. One way to do both, I’ve discovered, is to create a variety of economical stocks from scraps I’ve accumulated that then become the base for soups (and whole grain risottos and sauces and . . . ) all winter long.


Great ideas to snip and save in the freezer for food-scraps stocks are:

  • Leek trimmings
  • Rinds of hard cheeses
  • Heels of prosciutto, pancetta or salami
  • Shrimp or lobster shells
  • Chicken carcasses and wings
  • Beef or pork bones
  • Mushroom stems

And while you can feel free to raid the produce drawer for anything a bit beyond its prime, the golden rule is not to use anything slimy, moldy or smelly.

Formula for a Scraps Stock

  • Char a halved onion, cut side down, with 1/8 cup of unpeeled aromatics (like garlic, ginger, shallots, lemongrass and the like, depending upon the flavor profile you’re shooting for) in a large stock pot over medium heat until well colored, about 5 minutes.
  • Add a total of 4 cups additional coarsely chopped vegetable scraps (leek tops, celery, carrots, mushrooms stems, etc. in any combination) and shells or carcasses, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add 10 cups water, herbs (like bay leaves, thyme and rosemary) and 1 tablespoon miso, and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add in any cheese, cured meat scraps or dried mushrooms.
  • Simmer for anywhere from 40 minutes (for vegetable stocks) to overnight (for chicken or beef stocks)

Note that while stocks should be full-flavored, they are intentionally underseasoned (unlike broths) in order to make them super versatile. This gives you freedom later to reduce the stock or use it in a highly seasoned dish without it imparting too much saltiness.


3 Replies to “Turn Scraps into Soup”

  1. This sounds fabulous! From articles posted in FB, I’m wishing right about now that I was in the northwestern states with those shrooms that are growing wild! I have everything on hand except for the fresh sage and I’m short a couple of cups of mushrooms….but I definitely am interested in trying this tasty-sounding vegetarian soup! It’s the sage that has me tickled…it makes for an aromic fall/holiday-like season soup and sounds like it will also warm up the whole house as I come in from raking a ton of leaves.

  2. Oh that does look and sound good. The best soups are from scraps! And fun to make too. It is been pretty warm here – not soup weather the last few days. But I look forward to making this.

  3. Isn’t sage such a fall flavor? And one that takes us all the way through the holidays.

    Steph . . . It’s gotten warm here again too, although I have a new found commitment to soups. And this is a goodie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *