Most weekends I make a pot of stock: a chicken stock, from either old chicken bones left over from a roast or chicken wings bought especially for the job, or sometimes just a simple vegetable stock from a bunch of left over vegetables and a few sprigs of fresh herbs.
Having homemade stock in the fridge is like an insurance policy for me; it means that if I work late or have unexpected friends pop around I can make a delicious soup or risotto, that feeds the stomach and the soul, in a very short time.
Stock will keep in the fridge for three days and freezes well. It is healthy and can turn a simple meal into a tasty feast. I make a simple but delicious risotto with my vegetable stock by adding just a bunch of chopped sage and a generous grating of parmesan, which takes all of fifteen minutes - enough time to enjoy a glass of wine whilst stirring the pot, to recover after a hectic day.
When I was small my mother always gave me a bowl or mug of thin chicken soup - essentially stock - at the first sign of any illness. This broth, filled with goodness, would restore and revive me. I do the same with my children, but have got into the habit of adding a handful of barley or spelt grains to make it a little more substantial. Add roughly chopped vegetables and herbs, serve with some freshly baked bread, and you have a healthy meal.
This weekend think ahead and make some stock. You will not be sorry when you devour a wonderful risotto or bowl of soup at the end of a long tiring day.
Basic, quick and easy vegetable stock
- One kg or assorted Mixed Vegetables roughly chopped. (I like to use a mixture of any of the following that I have to hand: carrots, leeks, onions, fennel, potatoes, celery, butternut, parsnip, sweet potato or turnips.) If you do not have a whole kilogram you can use less, although your stock will be a little thinner. I tend to use up whatever I have lying around.
- One bouquet garni or a large handful of herbs.
- Two litres of water
Place everything into a large pot, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for two hours.
Cool then strain through a sieve.
Keep in the fridge for three or four days or freeze.
Christine Stevens has farmed organically for the last 10 years, in the Western Cape. Here she produces a range of award winning quality Organic Wines under the Mountain Oaks Label and grows a range of Organic fruit and Vegetables . She has written two books 'Harvest' and 'Harvest Diaries', both about food and life on an Organic Farm. More information can be found at the Mountain Oaks Facebook page.