Posts Tagged ‘Garbage Stock’

The second night of Passover, we had a leftover’s Seder. My friend Marilyn, who is an amazing cook, brought over her version of matzoh ball soup – a vegetarian stock with  matzoh balls and pesto. It was unbelievably delicious. I normally make a traditional clear chicken broth for my Seder. But I always make the matzoh balls outside the soup and heat up a box of organic vegetable stock so there is a vegetarian version.  It’s never great, because even though I fluctuate between the few organic brands, those boxes of soup stock just don’t ever taste right to me.

Since John is a vegetarian, we use a lot of those boxes of vegetable broth. They’re great for last-minute dinners.  I can throw together a quick vegetarian soup with a can of beans, a green and a box of vegetable broth. Quick yes. Healthy yes. Garbage-making, again, yes.

And the boxes of vegetable broth are usually between $2.50 on sale to $3.99 at the Bodega. Not outrageous, but not cheap.

Marilyn told me she makes her own stock. She said she throws in a bunch of vegetables including lettuce and eggplant and any odds and ends. She said to avoid bitter vegetables or vegetables with strong tastes like broccoli or Brussels sprouts.

Last week, when I started to re-evaluate my pantry, the boxes of vegetable broth came up. They are convenient, but there are not delicious.

Before I had kids, I used to save the ends of vegetables for stock, but then  I got lazy. When I look a the boxes of vegetable stock from a criteria of convenience, they’re great. But they never tasted great. And, they make garbage. I know I am not going to be able to go completely garbage free — breakfast cereal for the kids, pasta — these are things I don’t think we could manage losing from our life. But mediocre-tasting vegetable stock, maybe that could go.

I figured this was a good time to bring stock-making back. So, I collected all the ends and peels of the vegetables I used last week including the garlic and onion skins– basically what I would have composted if I still had a composter — and cooked it up.

“If it tastes gross,” I said to John, “it’s no big loss. I would have tossed these veggies  anyway.”

But it tasted delicious. Dark and rich and full-bodied — it was almost like a real soup on its own. I used it to make an impromptu minestrone soup on Thursday night. I used pre-soaked and cooked Cannellini beans – no can. Although,  I did use a can of organic tomatoes, I decreased my garbage pile. Plus, I recycled my compost scraps into food. John calls it my garbage stock.

I made another batch tonight. Zane helped me cut up organic potatoes for oven roasted french fries and had fun tossing the peels into the pot. We also made a grass-fed chuck steak for our organic steak-frits dinner. I have to say, there was definitely a difference in the taste of the grass-fed beef — it was much gamier than corn-fed — not exactly bad, but not exactly better. But the kids didn’t notice.

I think the steak cost me about $6.99 a lb — probably double what I normally pay since I used to only buy beef on sale. But if I subtract the $5.00 potential (and low-ball) cost of two boxes of vegetable broth — which is what I cooked up tonight —  maybe overall, I’m not doing that bad.

Garbage Stock Recipe


Lettuce end or outer leaf
Celery end
(my grandmother said every soup stock needs this)
Carrot ends
Potato or Sweet potato peel
Wooden bottoms of asparagus
Mushroom stems
Pepper tops
Eggplant tops
Stems from herbs
Any other vegetable* you love

What to do:

Collect the odds and ends of vegetables as you use them during the week. Put in a pot. Add salt, water and an extra clove of garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Cool. Strain out vegetables and toss. Enjoy.

* For a sweeter stock, you can also add pear and apple cores.


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