One thing that makes my soup taste better than some of my friends and relatives is that I typically use homemade stock. I often make soups requiring a poultry or seafood/fish base. For the “chicken” stock, I like to make it with the offal, neck, backbone and extra skin from a whole chicken that I’ve taken apart to bake. With stock you’ve got 2 options:
- save the parts to make stock the day you’re making the soup
- make the stock when you have parts to use and store it for future use.
I’ve done both methods and can say that the latter is the more difficult because it requires you to plan to use your stock with 5-7 days of making it. Otherwise, your stock will have gone bad which will not only spoil your day but your soup as well if you use it accidentally! So save your stock parts by putting them in a freezer bag and throwing them in the freezer. Thaw them then put them in a pot with 4-6 cups of water depending on how many parts your have and how much stock you need to make. Simmer and then remove all the extra parts in broth. I often pour the broth through a strainer to get all the little bits of bone that might be kicking around.
For fish/seafood stock, I use shrimp shells and other sundry extra parts such as fish skin, heads, etc. Like the chicken parts I put these all in a freezer bag and save up for when I want to make an authentic chowder or bisque. Since I don’t usually have enough parts to make a good stock from the leftovers from one meal prep, I just keep adding to the bag until I have enough. Then I thaw the bag of goodies. With the fish stock, it is easier if you put the parts into cheesecloth and add that to the water. This will keep little shrimp shell bits from making their way into your soup. As with the chicken broth, add water and simmer for 30 minutes.
As you can see, making stock isn’t very difficult or time consuming. Taking the extra few minutes to create your own stock will dramatically improve the quality of your soups.