Whenever it comes to stock-based soups, I almost always use homemade – with homegrown beef and chickens and fresh local fish I buy from time to time it just makes sense.
Every time we butcher, I ask our small-town butcher to keep soup bones, which are usually cut out of legs and include a nice amount of marrow – the heavenly substance dreams are made of – if you are Russian, anyway (the Russian love for beef marrow is well documented in classical Russian literature).
While packages vary in size, they are almost always somewhere between one and two-and-a-half pounds.
I am not very exact with proportions – I just put approximately two pounds of bones on the bottom of a 5-quart pot, and fill it almost full (you’ll see in a moment) with water. Cold water.
Then cover it and bring to a simmer over high heat. I don’t add anything else at this point.
As the brew is approaching the simmering point, scum will begin to rise to the top, and needs to be skimmed off and discarded. This will go on for about twenty minutes or so.
Meanwhile, prepare whatever else you will be using in the stock (you don’t want to add these until the scum has stopped rising and the soup has come to a boil, so they don’t get covered in scum or worse, be removed with it). A number of things will work, but I almost always go with an unpeeled carrot, an onion, a head of garlic (I’ll be using unpeeled cloves), a few sprigs of parsley, and bay leaves (which I was out of this particular time). If it’s a beef broth, I also like to add dried allspice berries (which I also didn’t have on hand) – they go so well with beef. I also use whole black peppercorns but I didn’t have any of those either. It wasn’t exactly my day.
Oh, and cloves!
I really love adding cloves to the soup…
Because I get to do this! I think this is a great opportunity for combining artistic expression with the outlet for violent emotions. Not that I have any violent emotions. Not me.
Once the scum is done rising, add all the vegetables and aromatics and keep the stock on medium simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours. I know some die-hard Weston A. enthusiasts would let it go all day until the bones fall apart and release the gelatin, but I find that 2-3 hours is just enough to get a strong broth and go about my life.
I don’t ever worry about adding my aromatics directly to the stock because I always strain it before freezing or cooking with. Be sure to reserve the bones to strip off every bit of meat for the soup. And don’t forget to eat the marrow with a spoon! I am not kidding. There are few delights on earth greater than sweet, fat bone marrow (it’s called “bone brain” in Russian – for a long time early in our relationship Jacob refused to acknowledge that “bone brain” existed).
Isn’t that beautiful? Now we’re gonna make some extremely simple beef and noodle soup. You like beef and noodle soup, right?
Slice the onions (or chop them – doesn’t matter)…
Butter… don’t skimp on butter! Never skimp on butter.
Saute the onions over medium heat until this happens.
Bring the stock back to a simmer and add salt.
I used about 2 to 2.5 C for some 3 quarts of stock. It’s up to you, really. Cook the noodles until done.
Now add a ton of freshly pressed (or minced) garlic – I think I used about 3 cloves.
The meat from the bones, cut up into 1″ chunks.
A dash of red wine vinnegar…
Parsley – and you’re done! And that’s all!