Making Stock

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Making Stock

The foundation for good soup
Food columnist Karen Anesi prepares Italian Wedding Soup. She grows most of her own herbs.
Typical Italian Wedding Soup greens include escarole and spinach. Karen Anesi adds Swiss chard grown in her home kitchen garden.
Herbs added to a bouquet garni include garlic, flat Italian parsley and thyme. Fresh spinach is added to frozen home-grown Swiss chard.
In the pot on the left, roasted root vegetables and cuts of beef with bones are carmelized in the oven before water is added to the stock pot. At right, a whole chicken, onions, celery and carrot are the basis for chicken stock. A bouquet garni adds herbs.
Karen Anesi serves up a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup.
Tips to improve homemade soup

b A bouquet garni of fresh herbs can enhance soup without clouding the broth. Thyme, parsley, and garlic can be tied in a 6-inch square of cheesecloth, dropped into the pot and later removed before straining. All the flavor with none of the stems or leaves.
b Soups can be thickened by creating a roux of equal parts butter and flour, blended and constantly stirred in a pan over medium heat. Liquids are gradually whisked into the roux.
b Creams are added in the final minutes of soup preparation and cooked over low heat, barely simmering, never boiling.
b Pastas or noodles should be added according to package directions for cooking. Add only as many noodles as will be eaten in an immediate meal. Cooked noodles make for poor leftovers — especially when they morph into soup mush.
b The Italian version of a mirepoix is called a soffritto. In addition to finely chopped carrots, celery and onion, Italians often add flat parsley, garlic and pancetta. The mixture is cooked very slowly in olive oil until all juices are released and a rich concentration of packed flavor remains.

Karen’s family recipe for Italian Wedding Soup

Make chicken stock using whole roasting chicken covered by at least 2 quarts of cold water. To stock pot add:
Chicken
2 large onions, halved
3 stalks celery
3 carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped Italian flat parsley
1 clove of chopped garlic
2 tablespoons salt
10 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove chicken and disjoint once chicken is cooled. Tear chicken off bones and refrigerate until time to add to soup. If desired, return carcass to soup pot for additional hour of simmering.
Strain broth. Reserve carrots and dice into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
Cool broth overnight. Remove solidified fat.
Make marble-sized meatballs using traditional meatball mixture. Here’s mine:
1 thick slice of white bread torn into small pieces and covered with ¼ cup of milk.
1 tsp dried basil or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon or more salt
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup or more grated Parmesan cheese
¾ to 1 pound lean ground chuck
¼ pound ground pork
Squeeze milk from soaked bread. Combine with all ingredients except ground meat and pork. Mix well.
Gently mix meats into herb, bread, and egg mixture. Use hands and mix until just blended. (Too much handling makes meatballs tough.)
Roll uniformly into marble- to walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheet in 350 degree preheated oven. Check in 20 minutes. Remove from oven when done and drain on paper towels, removing as much grease as possible.
While meatballs are cooking, bring chicken stock to a boil.
Drop meatballs into broth and wait until they float to top of pot.
Add one package frozen chopped spinach and one head of thinly sliced escarole (endive) or whatever homegrown greens (other than lettuce) you prefer. I use frozen chopped Swiss chard or kale.
Add chunks of chicken and chopped carrot. Heat thoroughly. Adjust seasoning and serve.
Optional: 1 cup of ditallini, acini de pepe or small pasta such as orzo.
Can also make a stracciatelle of ½ cup of Parmesan or Romano cheese added to one beaten egg, then gradually whisked through soup. Adds richness, so taste soup first before attempting stracciatelle.

Making Stock

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Food columnist Karen Anesi prepares Italian Wedding Soup. She grows most of her own herbs.
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Typical Italian Wedding Soup greens include escarole and spinach. Karen Anesi adds Swiss chard grown in her home kitchen garden.
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Herbs added to a bouquet garni include garlic, flat Italian parsley and thyme. Fresh spinach is added to frozen home-grown Swiss chard.
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In the pot on the left, roasted root vegetables and cuts of beef with bones are carmelized in the oven before water is added to the stock pot. At right, a whole chicken, onions, celery and carrot are the basis for chicken stock. A bouquet garni adds herbs.
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Karen Anesi serves up a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup.
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