Self-Care Shortcuts: Homemade Stock

Homemade Broth

When it came time to write this Vegimental, my worst writing nightmare came true—I had no ideas. Not even one. So I decided to make lunch and mull it over. Nothing like a little homemade, healthy food to get you headed in the right direction, I figured.

So I heated up a bowl of leftover tortilla soup. And one bite in, I knew what I wanted to write about: homemade broth. It’s so simple, it had almost slipped my consciousness. And because simplicity is the hallmark of a brilliant self-care technique, I knew I had a good Vegimental on my hands.

I made the chicken broth last weekend after my husband Scott and I both came down with the cold our daughter caught on the playground. We had eaten a (free range, organic) roasted chicken a few weeks before and I had saved the carcass in the freezer. On Friday night, when we both noticed the beginnings of a sore throat, I filled a stockpot with filtered water, plopped the bones in (thank you dear chicken for giving up your life to sustain us), and threw in one onion that I peeled and chopped in half, a few cloves of peeled garlic, a couple of broccoli stems, and a sprig of dried thyme. The pot simmered on the stove while we ate dinner and watched “The Fashion Show” on the DVR. After about two hours I turned the burner off and let the stock cool for 30 minutes before I strained it into a few big jars and stuck them in the fridge. Nighty night.

Over the next few days, I used that broth to make tortilla soup (adding garlic, chopped zucchini, a little organo, a minced jalapeno and a lot of lime, served sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips and cubes of avocado), polenta (from the newest edition of The Joy of Cooking), and sautéed broccoli (added a half-cup or so at the end to help the broccoli get fork tender). I’ve got only a few cups left, and I’m thinking about using it to make risotto tonight (with some frozen peas and another zucchini). No matter what I use it for, the broth makes something ordinary into something sublime. Just opening up the fridge or freezer and seeing it there gives me ideas and makes me feel like taking care of myself is within reach. And I’m happy to report that we are all over our colds in a mere five days, when they typically hang around a week or more.

If you aren’t a meat eater, you can make vegetable stock with onions, garlic, celery, and whatever greens you have on hand. Get a pot of water boiling when you get home from the grocery store, and toss in the (washed) outer leaves of cabbage, spinach stems, or carrot tops you would otherwise throw away. Add in some onion, garlic, or shallots, and let it all simmer for an hour or so. Then strain out the vegetables. You can sip it on its own, use it as a base for soup or a pasta sauce. I find it stays fresh for about a week.

Whatever type of broth you choose, taking the time to make it one uneventful night is like mailing yourself a love letter – you’ll thank yourself in a few days when you need a little reminder to give yourself a little TLC.

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