The Foodist: Stone Soup Vegetable Broth
I really like this recipe, The Foodist: Stone Soup Vegetable Broth because it is so wicked easy, sustainable, and fun to make. Plus, it has the added benefit of costing NEXT to nothing and is a great way to get kids involved in both cooking, and bioscience.
Add The Unexpected
This broth is essentially just tailings from vegetables that Rick Riley uses when he makes fabulous dinners with fresh foods from the gardens at Mezzacello. These are carrot ends, leek greens, fennel greens, shallot, onion, and garlic skins and spare flesh, fennel stalk peels and potato peels. But I add an unexpected twist.
To this cast iron enameled pan (important detail) I add 16 quarts of water, all the spare vegetables, a cup of white wine, and salt and pepper. I really do through the kitchen sink at this thing! Some flavors will overwhelm, but that is what the wine is for, to mellow out the flavors
The Mass of the Stone and it’s Surface Area Matters
Then I go out to the pond or field and I find the flattest, smoothest, biggest river rock I can find. I want it to be large enough to hold heat, but not take up too much space in the pan. The surface area is CRITICAL!
A smoother rock is easier to clean and dry. Bring that in and I wash it, sterilize it with alcohol if you’d like, dry it, and heat it up with flame.Then I carefully add that hot rock to the stock.
Kids WILL LOVE this! It sizzles in the boiling water and is so satisfying. I love how their little minds spin wondering what the stone will “taste like”. Then I put the lid on the pant and turn off the flame.
Thermodynamics, Energy Sustainability, and Folklore
Lastly, wrap the pan in a thick towel or even pink insulation or pine shavings (careful not to let them get in the pan) and let it sit for a few hours. The Rock has almost no thermal effect on the heat or cooking. That all comes from the water and the enameled cast iron pan.
What the rock does do is release natural minerals and create surface area that when cleaned with alcohol and superheated break off molecularly and add a delightful element to the stock. Plus it is a great way to describe chemistry and physics to kids and really capture their imagination.
Wrapping the pan saves a lot of energy as well. This wrapping process is called Thermal Cooking. This method – all of it, the tailings, the water, the stone – is also the basis of my FAVORITE childhood story, Stone Soup.
I recognize this is not the most efficient way to cook. But reframe this problem: This is essentially a 14th Century Crock Pot, right?
Once you have strained the broth, store the broth in gallon zip lock bags and lay them flat in your freezer. They keep very well there. Then the tailings can either go to the chickens, worms, or compost, dealer’s choice.