Most kindergarteners can tell you the story of “stone soup.” A hungry traveler comes upon a village where the folk are unwilling to share what little they have. The traveler says he only needs water and stones to make soup. While stirring the pot of stones he says, "This will be very good soup, but better if only it had a little onion..." And so someone volunteers an onion. And so it goes as the traveler coaxes more and more ingredients out of the onlookers. When the delicious soup is served, no one can believe it was made only from stones.
Cooking vegetable scraps isn't just frugal; it is nutritious. Consider that 1 cup of packaged vegetable stock contains upwards of 500 mg salt and 1 g sugar, as well as preservatives. Fresh vegetable stock is very low in calories and vitamins but still has great nutritional value in trace minerals.
Stock is handy and essential to many dishes, such as risotto. The great chef Auguste Escoffier says "Indeed, stock is everything in cooking...without it nothing can be done." To make a good stock, use only fresh and clean vegetable scraps such as the leafy tops of carrots and celery, kale or chard stalks, scrubbed potato skins, and the second skin (not the papery outside) of onions. Mushroom stems and ends from bell peppers and green beans are all good. (Some veggies like asparagus, zucchini, artichokes, eggplants, and broccoli don’t add much or make stock bitter.) Toss in a pot, cover with water and cook for 15 min. to 1/2 hour. Strain and use within 2 days or freeze.
The organic veggies in our TakeHome case can be used from stem to stern. With conventional vegetables it is not advisable to use the skins, as they absorb the pesticides.
- Heidi Lewis