Long-cooking stock in your oven

stock-in-jar

I know, I’m a stock-pusher. I’ve made my arguments not once, but twice, about why everyone should make their own, and kiss those cans and boxes of re-hydrated powdered flavorings goodbye.

Bone broth is nothing short of magical. It’s the reason chicken soup got such a good rep — medicinal for just about every ailment. Got a cold or the flu? Warm yourself with broth. Got the stomach bug? My pediatrician just told me that the gut irritation from a bug can be healed completely in 48 hours if your diet is broth-heavy. Break your arm? Just checking to see if you’re paying attention (though I wouldn’t doubt it somehow helps that too).

The healing qualities of bone broth come from — duh — the bones. But you need to cook it for a long time — 12-24 hours — to get the maximum minerals and nutrients out of the bones and into the liquid. This was something I didn’t always know — and once I knew, I didn’t know how to accomplish.

Some people cook their stock in a crockpot, which is totally safe to leave on for 24 hours, and extremely energy-efficient. But my crockpot is only a 4-quart model, which means I’d likely only get 3 quarts of stock. If I’m going to make stock, I want to get at least double that amount, so I use my 8-quart stockpot (though I’m shopping for a 12-quartinsert tween-ish squeal here).

The trick was always how to cook the stock for long enough. I’m fine leaving the pot on the stove all day, but what about at night? My obsessive tendencies would go into overdrive if I tried to sleep with an open flame left burning on my stovetop. The simple answer? My oven.

Stock is best-cooked when it barely simmers — just a tiny bubble or two breaking the surface every now and again. If you bring a pot up to simmer on the stovetop, you can transfer it to a 200° oven, partially-covered, and let it cook overnight. Totally brilliant (and not, mind you, my idea).

stock-oven

Other things to consider while you gather the things in your kitchen necessary for stock-making (since I know you’re going to do it):

  • Feel like you never have the right veggies on-hand when you need them? In my mind, only 3 are necessary: celery, carrot, and onion. Put a ziplock bag in your freezer, and when you have ends and pieces from other recipes, throw them in the bag instead of the trash. Or, buy celery and cut up a few stalks to freeze specifically for stock-making. You can toss them frozen into the pot.
  • You can make stock from just about any type of bones (though I don’t recommend mixing them up). I most frequently use chicken, but have made beef and lamb stock after buying bones from the farmer’s market (usually $2-3 a pound). A good ratio to use is 1-2 quarts water for every pound of bones (the less water, the richer the stock).
  • Once your stock is strained and refrigerated, you can scrape off the top layer of fat and freeze in Tbsp portions (I use ice trays) for future use. Animal fats are good for high-heat cooking, and add flavor and richness to soups.
  • You can freeze your stock in ziplock bags, but I now prefer to use wide-mouth (NOT regular-mouth) quart mason jars. You can read more about freezing stock here.
  • I have yet to try this, but I’ve read recently that you can use bones for more than one batch of stock. I’d be more likely to do this with beef or lamb bones, since chicken bones seem truly spent after simmering 24 hours. Even more bang for your buck!
  • Letting the bones soak for a little while in water with apple cider vinegar helps draw out the calcium & nutrients.
  • If your stock, once cold, is gelatinous, you’ve made a killer batch. Congrats!
  • Stock will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Freeze for longer storage.

stock-straining

 

Recipe: Long-cooking stock (bone broth)

: The recipe shows ranges of quantities because it depends on the amount of bones you have — thankfully it’s not an exact science!

Ingredients

  • 3-6 pounds bones (use any of one type: chicken, beef, lamb — if possible use some with meat still attached, and some with joints)
  • 2-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1-2 ribs celery, with tops, chopped into 2″ lengths
  • 1-2 carrots, unpeeled & scrubbed, chopped into 2″ lengths
  • 1-2 onions, unpeeled & quartered
  • 1-2 bay leaves (optional)
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
  • 4-10 quarts filtered water (1-2 quarts per pound of bones)

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, combine the bones, vinegar, and water to cover. Let sit 20 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables & herbs to the pot, and enough water to cover (only fill to within an inch of the rim).
  3. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop. Skim foam as it rises to the top (discard).
  4. Meantime, preheat oven to 200°.
  5. Once stock is simmering, transfer to oven and cook, partially-covered, 18-24 hours (set a baking time if necessary so oven doesn’t auto-shut-off). It’s fine to transfer the pot back to the stovetop at any point in cooking.
  6. Once done, strain the stock into 1-2 large bowls. Cool over an ice bath, and strain again into quart-sized canning jars (if freezing, only fill within 1 inch of the top to allow for liquid expansion).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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Freezing stock in jars

After our vacation in Michigan, book-ended with all the prep that goes into packing for a family of five, and all the laundry/bedtime-adjusting/post-vacay-depression-fighting/reality-facing on return, it had been a couple weeks since I’d made it to the Goodwill Outlet.

What, I’ve not convinced you just how high this is on my priority list? My sister tweeted last weekend that I’m “a yard sale [or trip to Goodwill] shy of an A&E reality show” (hey, if it paid, I’d consider).

Friday afternoon, I saw an opportunity. My husband was taking our older two kids to an event, and as I pondered my options for the evening, it hit me that they bring out new bins at The Outlet at 5pm. I texted my friend Sarah, picked her up 20 minutes later, and was on my way to avoiding a weekend of withdrawal symptoms.

The first thing I picked up to put into my cart was a big box of Poise Undergarments.

Not, of course, filled with its original contents, but rather with 24 quart-sized Ball jars. Glassware costs only 49¢/pound, so the box probably ran about $4.

At home, Tim rolled his eyes and shook his head as I Goo-gone’d, washed, and sanitized the jars. No, I had no specific plans for them, but I knew I needed them. They went right back into the Poise box, and into the basement.*

Only to come out two days later, as I started my first pot of chicken stock, prepping for soup season.

In years past, I’ve frozen my stock in ziplock bags, stacking them flat in the freezer to maximize space. But on many occasions I thawed a bag only to find that, in getting knocked around in the freezer, it had split. Translating into a loss of valuable stock and a royal mess, discovered only after the bag had thawed into a pool that dripped undiscovered, quietly and steadily, to the floor.

But with a deep-freezer in the basement, I can spare a little room for freezing stock in jars. My friend Stefanii cans her stock in a pressure-canner, and I’m hoping to get to that someday. But until then, the freezer will do, with a little care.

A few things are important when freezing liquids in glass jars:

  1. The liquid should be cold. For my stock, I chill it down quickly after cooking by stirring it over an ice bath. Then I ladle the cooled stock into jars and refrigerate them overnight before freezing.
  2. You must leave head room at the top of the liquid — a couple inches, or to be safe don’t fill above the 800ml line (for a quart jar). Liquid expands a lot when frozen, so you need to leave room for that expansion, or the jar can explode under the pressure (a safe-guard is to leave the lids off until the liquid is completely frozen — good to do if you have a level freezing surface).
  3. Don’t freeze liquids in jars larger than a quart. Something about the liquid expansion and the size of the jars makes half-gallon and gallon-sized jars much more likely to break.
  4. (EDITED 9/24) Just read in an Urban Garden magazine that using straight-sided (i.e., wide-mouth) jars is safer than using jars w/ shoulders, as the curved glass is weaker.

Of course, before you freeze stock, you must make it.

Have I mentioned I am a Proselytizer of Homemade Stock? Oh, right. I have. Well, in case some of you weren’t listening, I’ll be covering it again soon.

Assuming I have the time, between trips to The Outlet.

 

* Note: The fact that I am once again showing you photos of my basement can be construed as nothing short of a cry for help. Recently, Emily descended the steps with me into the abyss, and after taking in “The Room” where junk is piled so high it is questionable whether enough oxygen exists for a human to survive, she could only muster the understatement, “You could use some storage shelves.”

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I linked this post up to Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

 

Corn, Chicken, and Sweet Potato Chowder

This soup was born Sunday night, entirely on the premise that if you figure out a good blueprint for soup, you can make one from just about anything in your kitchen. A few items that make the work much easier:

  • homemade broth — you knew that was coming.
  • a mire poix — (onions, carrots, and celery) a.k.a. aromatics of French cooking, the base for countless recipes. All of these items are inexpensive, and keep for relatively long periods, so in winter I always have them on-hand. Keep your onions in a basket or other container that allows air circulation; they should be kept cool and dry, but don’t refrigerate. Keep your carrots in their original bag, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Keep the celery wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, in the crisper drawer, and it will stay fresh for a few weeks.
  • milk or half-n-half, to quickly add creaminess to soups, or further a small amount of stock.
  • good dried herbs, or even fresh ones. I try to keep at least Italian parsley in the frig — store it with a single paper towel in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Make sure your dried herbs are fresh — otherwise they’ll impart little flavor to your soups.
  • grains (such as rice or barley) or noodles, to add bulk.

Soups are also a great way to use up items in the frig that are a step away from going bad. Got a half-container of mushrooms leftover from making pizza? There’s a soup for that. That one last slice of beef roast that nobody wants to eat? Throw it in a pot with broth, rice and vegetables. I get a freakish high when I make a meal out of some basics plus the rejected contents of our refrigerator, and often times it’s one of the best meals of the week (go figure).

Sunday night’s soup was a success. It gets a nice dose of sweet from the potatoes; but it’s on the thin side for a chowder, which keeps it from being too rich. When an experiment works, I try to write it down so we can enjoy it again. And by writing it down, of course I mean post it, since these days this blog is as close to a recipe book as I have.

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Corn, Chicken, and Sweet Potato Chowder

If you don’t have homemade broth, you can make it in the hour before making the soup:
Place 2 bone-in chicken parts (2 breasts, or 2 leg quarters, or a combination) in a large pot and cover with water. Add a small onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery, roughly chopped. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer about 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool, but continue simmering the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones (reserve) and place the bones back into the broth. Continue simmering for another half hour. Strain the broth, and use in the soup (freeze any leftover broth for future soups).

  • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred, see note)
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • about 1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked chicken, pulled apart into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups frozen corn

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until fat is rendered and starting to crisp. Add the onion and celery, and cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and just starting to brown (about 8 minutes). Add 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste, and dried thyme.

Add chicken stock and milk to the pot, along with the chopped sweet potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add cooked chicken and frozen corn to the pot, simmering just until corn is cooked and chicken is heated through. Taste for seasoning, and serve.

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This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Turkey stock. Easy as pie.

Maybe even a little easier than pie. Depending on whether you made your own crust or not. And whether, like me, you realized that foregoing the canned evaporated milk in favor of making your own creme fraiche for the first time (note: it doesn’t really work when your kitchen’s average temperature is 68º) to make the ONE Thanksgiving pie was, maybe, not such a great idea. (In the end, the pie was delicious. But let’s just say the panic that ensued en route did not leave me thinking the old saying had much validity.

I make this stock every year, and more than one time that involved my wrapping up the bones in either Mississippi or Pennsylvania and driving them 8-10 hours in a styrofoam cooler back to Georgia. I talk about that a little more at this post, where you can also find my recipe for Turkey Gumbo, the ultimate goal for this stock each year. But even if you don’t make the gumbo, you should use these bones for stock. You get a ton of bang for your turkey buck — the large size of the bird means you get a LOT of stock. Probably around 6 quarts, depending on the size of your stockpot.

You really have no excuse — other than maybe not having a pot big enough (though I’ll bet you could run out right now and find one on sale). If you made dressing yesterday, you probably already have everything on hand. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it an annoying number of times: there is nothing like using homemade stock in soups, sauces, and cooked grains. It makes everything richer, fresher, brighter, and much more nourishing. So, use what’s left of your Black Friday, and get to the stove.

Turkey Stock

  • large stock pot or dutch oven (at least 5-quart capacity, preferably 8 quarts or larger)
  • all the bones from yesterday’s turkey, meat removed and reserved
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
  • 2 medium carrots, well-scrubbed and chopped into 2-inch rough pieces
  • 2 medium stalks celery, well-scrubbed, with leaves if possible, chopped into rough pieces
  • 2 dried bay leaves (optional)
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
  • a Tbsp of black peppercorns (optional)

Place turkey bones in stockpot, breaking apart if necessary so they’ll fit. Fill pot with water (filtered if possible), and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Let cook for about 3 hours, adding water if necessary to keep level close to top of pot.

Strain broth, discarding vegetables and bones. Cool over an ice bath, then refrigerate overnight. Once cool, skim the fat from the surface (freeze for future use or discard). Freeze stock in pre-measured amounts in quart-sized freezer bags. Or use immediately in your favorite soup recipe.

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Gingered Carrot Soup

carrotsoup

You’ll notice that I didn’t put green food coloring in it. I know I should have had something weirdly green on yesterday’s menu, but I’ve covered food coloring before, and the fact that my Little Man can’t have it. So instead of making yet another thing he can’t eat, I just put something green on his plate that was really and truly green. And then proceeded to watch him eat everything on his plate but that thing. My girls, on the other hand, love them some broccoli.

I had this soup on the menu a couple weeks ago, but it never actually got made. The past few weeks have been menu-busters: between tummy bugs, logistical issues with getting our beef from a friend’s freezer, and birthdays, my dinner plans have been thwarted time after time. The good thing about when that happens is that I can just forward my planned meals to the next week — translation: I don’t have to think. That’s always a good thing, since thinking tends to strain muscles.

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Tuscan White Bean Stew

tuscanstew

As requested by Rebecca.

This adaptation was born out of one of those nights when you realize, a bit too late, that you don’t have everything you need to make what you thought you were making for dinner. Thankfully, it ended up being one of the rare times when it all turns out ok anyway, and in fact, was pretty much as good as the original.

The original is this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated — one of my favorite winter soups (how many times have I claimed that?). It is rich and flavorful and comforting (again, familiar adjectives when covering the topic of soup), with a little twist of excitement because of the way it’s served (I’ll keep you in suspense, or you can just read the last page of the book by glancing above at the photo).

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Black bean soup with ham

blackbeansoup

I do occasionally tire of our old standby recipes, and such is the case with my tried-and-true Brazilian Black Beans from The Joy of Cooking. The last time I made them — a few months ago — I knew I had worn out their welcome on my taste buds. The very thing that I loved about them — their citrus-y sweetness from the orange juice — became too much, too heavy-handed. It hit me like that piece of broccoli in my salad, the one I had to spit out, when I had my very first inklings of morning sickness in my first pregnancy; what I was eating was offensive, in a way it had never been before (but in case you’re wondering, I did not spit out the black beans — I figure spitting out food is something that should be reserved for infants and pregnant women).

I do think (or hope) I’ll someday return to my beloved black bean recipe. But for now, we need a break, so I went searching for something else to do with a pound of black turtle beans. I had a meaty ham bone in my freezer, leftover from the in-law’s at Christmas, and it didn’t take long browsing Cook’s Illustrated to find a recipe that would be a good starting point.

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Caldo verde

caldo_verde

Soup is the meal by which a marriage is made.

No, this is not an ancient proverb; it’s the actual one-sentence account of how my marriage came to be. You know — a big pot on the stove, a simmering of more than just stock and beans, the fragrance of garlic and love in the air. If there isn’t a Harlequin romance with this beginning, then someone should write one.

How many stories of mine begin with a variation on the words, “Flashback: Knoxville, Tennessee, late 90’s?” This tale is no different; I was living in a fantastic apartment on 17th Street with another grad student. We had started an unofficial tradition of having soup on Sunday nights in the winter; someone in our or a neighboring apartment would make a large pot, and everyone would partake. Tim started showing up at the door, alongside a guy I was sort of dating. I assumed he was there to get to know my lovely roommate; turns out (I found out later) he was just there for the soup.

When things didn’t really go anywhere with the guy I was sort of dating, I wondered a bit when Tim showed up the next Sunday, all by his lonesome. Still thinking he was there for the roommate, I let my curiosity wane. (It never really struck me as odd that after we all ate soup, Tim and I would usually be the ones sitting and talking for the next hour or two.) When spring came, and he’d never gotten around to asking my roommate out, and the warm weather brought with it an end to simmering stews, he was still there. Sometime in April, I put two and two together, and after an initial rejection of his advances due to a minor age discrepancy (let’s just say he was an undergrad when I was a grad) I finally (and yes, still thankfully) gave in.

And you know? I’m still making soup for that man. God willing, I’ll be doing it until we are old, gray, and no longer able to chew much other than soup. These one-pot meals comprise our dinners about twice weekly in the winter months. There are the almost-weekly-standby’s, like The Best Tomato Soup (as easy as it gets). Then there are those I make only once or twice the entire season, like Mulligatawny (never eat it without thinking of the Soup Nazi). I enjoy using my own chicken stock, almost exclusively, because it is so economical, so much tastier, and so much better for you. But there are those times when the stock stock (sorry about that one) has run dry, and when that happens I rely on recipes where only water is needed.

Like caldo verde — a Portuguese greens soup. This is a hearty, comforting, flavorful soup if there ever was one, and is so without the use of stock. If you tend, like me, to have bunches of kale on hand throughout the winter, you’re most of the way there. It calls for half a pound of chorizo, but you can use linquica or andouille — any of the hard, red-seasoned, spicy sausages sold pre-wrapped in the meat section. When it’s on sale, I buy a few packs, and split them into half-pound (2-link) portions before freezing them — this way I always have some on hand. This soup is perfect if you are starting to feel congested; the spicy sausage will clear your passages while you eat (a bit embarrassing if you have company). It holds up well as leftovers, and even tastes delicious after being frozen — the potatoes will break down more, making a thicker soup the second go-around.

I can’t say enough good about it. While not a weekly menu item for us, suffice it to say it gets us through winter. A thick, buttered slice of bread on the side is the perfect accompaniment.

My recipe is adapted from one in The Joy of Cooking — the original suggests using partial chicken stock, but I have made it many times with just water and it still tastes wonderful (though, by all means, use it if you have it). I can’t remember what soups I made for Tim, ten years ago, that helped win his heart without my even trying. But if I were writing an instruction book on man-snagging-via-soup-making (and who’s to say I’m not?), this one would be in it. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but also his cleared sinuses.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 medium (or 2 large) potatoes (any kind), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 6-8 oz chorizo sausage (substitutes: linquica or andouille), thinly sliced
  • 4 cups well-washed and thinly-sliced kale (from a half-pound bunch)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a soup pot or dutch oven, over med-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until translucent but not brown (about 5 minutes). Stir in water, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in the liquid, thickening the texture of the soup.

Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add the sausage. Sauté, stirring, until brown. Add the sausage to the soup pot, then ladle a little of the soup into the now-empty hot skillet and scrape up any browned bits. Pour this mixture back into the soup pot. Simmer another five minutes, then stir in the kale. Cook another five minutes, until the kale is bright green, then stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Good-For-You, Delicious, Not-Dinner-Party Soup

creamOgreens

This was a recipe tried out of pure necessity. In one of my last CSA boxes — I’ve lost count as to how many more I’m supposed to get — I got nothing but greens. And a kabocha squash. But still — a box full of greens. More than I could fancy eating.

Thankfully, our CSA farm sends an email each week with suggested recipes. One of them was for Cream of Greens soup — something I’ve never even heard of. But I’ll eat just about any kind of soup, and I did have a bounty of greens. So I set to making a pot.

What can I say? If I’m writing about the experience, it had to be good. Case in point: a friend’s daughter, just turned 13, was here to help me with the kids on a crazy morning while I got tried to get caught up. It was lunchtime, and I had fixed her a grilled cheese sandwich. I didn’t even think to offer her the soup — it had been simmering on the stove — because I mean, c’mon, it’s greens, and she is less than thirty. But she, after stealing a few curious glances at the contents of my dutch oven, asked if she could try it. I gave her a small cupful; she made quick work of cleaning it out. She sat shyly, and talked about how good it was. I told her she could have as much as she wanted (still thinking she’s just being polite, surely she didn’t actually enjoy it), and before the words were out of my mouth she was back at the stove. Later, her mom told me that she had not been home for half a minute before she was telling her she simply had to get Mrs. Carter’s soup recipe.

So, there you have it. Teen-tested, mother-approved. I changed the original recipe a little; it called for way more liquid than seemed necessary or beneficial. I used vitamin greens and bok choy; but I really do think you could use any greens you have, or a mixture (save salad varieties, but who knows?). As always, I think the soup goes from good to fantastic if you use your own chicken stock (it’s easy! look here!). Don’t be afraid of the heavy cream; it adds a lot, and a little goes a long way. This soup is not terribly unlike Cream of Broccoli, if you need more of a taste reference; and while it might not make a great first course at your next social gathering, it will warm you to the core on a stay-at-home, still-warding-off-H1N1 Thursday night.

Cream of Greens Soup

  • 3 cups chopped greens (any kind)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, or 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth & 1 quart water
  • 1 large potato, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • pinch nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stock pot or dutch oven. Add onion, salt to taste, and cook until translucent but not brown. Add greens, potato, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes. Purée the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Return to heat, add cream and nutmeg, and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately (it also freezes well).

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If you happen to like beets

My husband does not like beets. He’ll eat just about anything I put in front of him at least once, but he’s always honest about what things he prefers over others; he rarely dislikes something, but when he does, even goes through efforts to “acquire” a taste for it. I’ve watched him give it his best shot, over the past 7 years, to like beets. I first presented them to him back in Asheville, when I made the Odessa Beets from the Moosewood Cookbook (Asheville brought out the Mollie Katzen in me). He graciously ate them for the meal for which they were prepared, but then let me work solo through the leftovers. I’ve made grated beet salads, thinly sliced beet garnishes, and now roasted beet soup. The soup I thought would be the ticket. It was rich, buttery yet delicate, a delightful and rare treat. I mean, LOOK AT THAT SOUP. What’s not to like?

Apparently, the beets.

I suppose I’ll have to allow him his right to dislike a vegetable. And, well, yes; beets are distinctly… earthy; one could see how they could tip the scale from interesting to offensive. I have my own List-O-Abhorrent-Flavors, including cilantro, black licorice, root beer, and liver (though I did enjoy a fois gras at Bacchanalia — which is a testament to the magical cookery at that place). At least he doesn’t refuse to partake in an entire food group. Because some people actually do that.

But if you are not like my husband, and are interested in making a luscious roasted beet soup, I encourage you to try this one from a food stylist/blogger in Atlanta. I changed things up a little when I made it; I reduced all ingredients since I didn’t have quite enough beets, and used chicken rather than vegetable stock. I also ate it without the créme fraîche, since it’s expensive to buy and a little time-intensive to make. (In retrospect: a lovely, suitable, and quick substitute would probably be crema, which from my experience at Lula is a thinned version of sour cream: equal parts sour cream and heavy cream.) I snipped some fresh chives over the top of my bowl(s) and it was — really — such a treat. Something I would expect to eat at a good restaurant.

It doesn’t make a huge pot, but a tiny bit is all you need. Think first course, or served aside a sandwich or salad. It’s amazingly rich, so a little goes a long way. If you need to use up some beets without making the soup, you can roast the beets and combine with the stock, then purée and freeze. When you’re ready to make the soup, thaw the frozen mixture (make sure you bring it to a simmer if you’ve used chicken stock), then stir in your cream until it reaches your desired consistency.

Let me know if you try it — I’d like to find some more closet beet-eaters out there.