Escarole and Bean Soup with Farro and Potatoes + How To on Homemade Vegetable Stocks

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Nothing beats the winter chill like a belly full of warm soup! We love to use our Croc Pot to slow cook soups for hours and hours (this soup took over a day total). You can store it in the fridge and heat it up for days, and it always gets better each time. The best part about soup is that you can really make it out of anything you want. There are tons of recipes online for classic tomato soups or chicken noodle or minestrone, but you do not need to follow a recipe. A good stock and some fresh ingredients is all you need. Get creative! This soup is made up of carrots, onions, potatoes, cannellini beans, romaine lettuce, and farro–an ancient grain similar to barley that absorbs tons of water; it goes great in soups and is packed full of protein. We used our homemade veggie stock that we made with leftover veggie scraps. Garlic tips, onion cores and ends, tomato cores, kale stems, etc. Don’t throw away your veggie scraps!

Vegetable Stock: How To

Making a home vegetable stock presents different challenges than a chicken or beef stock. With a meat stock, you have the bones, fat, and marrow to seep into your stock and give it flavor, with vegetables for a compliment. You don’t have that with only vegetables. But you can still get just as much of flavor if you do it right.

Some guidelines:

  1. garlic, onions, and carrots are always a must
  2. if you’re going for a dark stock, use crimini mushrooms
  3. for pho and Asian flavors, use ginger, bok choy, hot peppers, and soy sauce
  4. MOST IMPORTANT: start your stock with COLD WATER always- like tea, using cold water in a stock allows the temperature to rise with all the flavors, fully infusing the stock. Do your best to keep the stock on low temperature, just BELOW a boil. The old moniker is LOW & SLOW.

When making a vegetable stock, small dice your veggies (you can rough chop, just make them small). I mean small. Smaller pieces will exude their flavor more quickly, giving your stock more time to mix all those flavors together. You will want to sweat your veggies before adding them to your stock pot. Searing quickly draws out their flavor, helping your stock be as strong as possible. You can make a stock with just a Croc Pot, which hardly gets hot enough to sweat vegetables, but it will not be as strong. My one”Croc Pot only” stock still had some flavor, but I cooked it for 17 hours overnight on low- if you don’t have that time (or even if you do) you’ll want to sweat your veggies. If you’re using veggie scraps, rough chop them small and sear them just the same. You won’t want to eat these, so strain them out of your stock. If using just fresh veggies, save them! They can either go right back into your soup, or you can serve them on rice/quinoa or as a compliment to nearly anything.

Once you’ve made a stock, you can keep it in your fridge for up to 10 days, and can use it with much more than just a soup. I used to love making a dark mushroom stock with all the Asian flavors, and could simply heat it back up and serve over rice noodles for an easy dinner. Putting in the hard work one day making a stock will make the rest of your week much easier, and you’ll still get to eat healthy. Give it a try and get on our Facebook or Instagram to let us know how it went!

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