Reduce waste in the kitchen this holiday season with soups and stock

With one major holiday behind us and several more coming up this month, healthy eating can be a challenge due to the hustle and bustle of the season. One of the easiest ways to get ahead this month is preparing holiday meals in advance and freezing them. With the variety of flavors available at the Durham Farmers’ Market, you can easily whip up a tasty batch of soup that will warm your guests in late December.

If you want to get your kids involved in the cooking process, try making pumpkin soup directly in the pumpkin. First, cut the top off the pumpkin to make a lid while cooking and then scoop out the guts, saving the seeds to roast. In the center of the pumpkin, place your favorite soup stock and any seasoning, such as onion, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, and butter. Place the lid on the pumpkin and bake at 375 degrees for 1.5-2 hours. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and gently scrape the pumpkin’s flesh into the soup mixture. Use an immersion blender to reach the desired consistency and enjoy. Try an heirloom variety of pumpkin at the farmers’ market and savor the unique flavors of late fall.

Once the holidays have come and gone, we challenge you to reduce waste and save what remains of your meat dishes by making soup stock. What exactly is stock? This refers to the liquid that is made by simmering bones for an extended period of time, whereas soup broth is made by cooking meat for a shorter period of time. Typically stock is made from an animal’s carcass, giving you the added health benefits of the gelatin and minerals found in the animal’s bones. These minerals assist with digestion, can help reduce joint inflammation, improve bone health, and defend against free radicals that can cause you to get sick during the winter months.

Even though leftover bones from a holiday meal have been cooked once, roast the bones in the oven until they are brown, but not too dark. Doing this adds flavor to the stock as it cooks. When the bones are done roasting, add vegetables into the same pan and let those roast until they get a little color. At this point, you can mix everything in a big pot and cover with cool water to cook. Enjoy the stock immediately or freeze for use at a later time.

There are endless ways you can use your stock. For example, you can braise seasonal favorites such as kale, radicchio, and cabbage in stock. You can also cook your grits, rice, or quinoa in stock to give the dish a savory taste.

Ease your holiday stress this year by preparing soup in advance and reduce waste by making stock with your leftovers. Happy cooking!