Early Spring Stock

Soup made with homemade stock will fortify and comfort any body against the vagaries of spring cold, rain, mud, slush or snow.  The nutritional benefits are legendary and the flavor sublime.  Well beyond worth the effort.  “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking…without it nothing can be done.” –Auguste Escoffier.  A very large pot is essential.

Makes ~4 quarts.
Total prep time: 30 mins.
Cooking time: 3 hours to all day.

7-8 lbs. meaty beef, lamb or pork bones
3 med. onions, quartered
3 carrots, chunked
1 bunch flat parsley
3 celery stalks with leaves, chunked
(6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms)
(5 green lettuce leaves)
½ cup vinegar
1.5 gallons water
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black peppercorns
5 sage leaves
3 sprigs thyme

Put the meaty bones in a large roasting pan and brown very well in the oven at 350 degrees.  Add the bones to the vegetables, water and vinegar in your stockpot.  With a bit of boiling water loosen and gently and thoroughly scrape the crusty bits from the roasting pan and add to the pot.  (Don’t loose any—this is flavor!).  Bring the heat slowly up to a very gentle boil.  Skim off the foamy scum that rises to the top, then add the seasonings and herbs and simmer gently for at least 2-3 hours, or as long as all day.  Carefully lift out the meaty bones into a bowl to cool a bit.  And allow the broth to cool too.  Pour broth through a cheesecloth-lined colander into another large pot.  Continue to cool undisturbed so the fat rises.  While the stock is resting, when the meat is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and reserve it for soup, or eat now for lunch.  Discard the bones.  (The dogs will enjoy the vegetable mush left in the colander in their next meal!).  Then, from the stock, gently ladle off all of the fat.  I then put the stock into ‘take-out’ pint and quart containers or ‘tupperware’ for freezing.  

To make a great soup add fresh vegetables of your choice (and some fresh chunks of garlic for extra fortification) to the reheating, simmering stock.  When the vegetables are cooked, add a cooked starch: rice, pasta or potatoes and voila!  

To your health!  Enjoy!