Game changer: make your own bouillon

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It’s rare that food things BLOW MY MIND. I have been reducing our food bill for years with a combination of sale purchases, learning new skills, and mostly cooking from scratch. So it’s rare that I consider some recipe or short cut a game changer. If I dig into my memories, I think the last thing that really blew my mind was Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread which busted onto the scene about 10 years ago and still enjoys mega popularity today. If you haven’t tried it, it is definitely worth the effort (non-effort?).

So imagine my surprise when I was flipping through River Cottage Handbook: Preserves and came across their Souper Mix. I swear I must have slapped my forehead and exclaimed, “Why didn’t *I*think of that?”

Essentially, most stocks are just veggies and bones/meat boiled in water to let out their natural flavours. This mix reduces that to its essential components: what if we took out the water and just processed aromatic vegetables into a paste? The result is a flavourful bouillon a million times better than their powdered store-bought counterparts. I dare say (as I am feeling a bit blasphemous) it’s even better than my beloved Better Than Bouillon: the mainstay of so many of our dishes, including my favourite Quick ginger-miso soup

There is indeed a lot of salt in this recipe, much like store-bought bouillons. The science behind this is that the salt limits bacteria from growing, allowing you to store this for a long time. I find adjusting the salt in my recipes help balance the sale in this mix. I am presenting the original recipe as-is:

Souper Mix
Makes about four cups:

9oz (250 g) leek
7oz (200 g) fennel
7oz (200g) carrot
9oz (250g) celery root
2oz (50g) sun-dried tomatoes
2 or 3 garlic cloves
3 ½ (50g) parsley
3 ½ (50g) cilantro
¾ c fine sea salt

Put all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until you have a fairly thick paste. To use: combine 1 tsp of souper mix to 1 cup of water.

Of course, the evening we planned to make this we didn’t have all the ingredients on-hand. However, this is an incredibly forgiving recipe and we ended up substituting celery for the celery root, and mushrooms for the fennel. We also lacked fresh parsley so we used dry. As long as you stick to the aromatic vegetables you probably will be able to make a myriad of tasty variations based on this basic recipe.

The recipe assumes you will store it in the fridge but we found storing it in the freezer to be a much better option. The mix stays relatively soft due to the amount of salt, and in fact, if you wanted to reduce the salt and up the vegetables (I would try adding onion, personally) putting it in the freezer will help it keep longer. To use we just scoop out a teaspoon and use in our recipes as directed.

Given how fall is in full swing and most of these vegetables are harvested this time of year, it’s a great time to whip up a batch of souper mix so you can enjoy comforting soups all winter long.