It’s officially soup weather and I can’t wait to dig into my Pinterest board of cold weather recipes. Soup is my go-to feel good food when the temperature drops, and for good reason – it’s full of vegetables and quinoa and all kinds of healthy ingredients to keep your body and mind running smoothly through the winter.

The only issue I have with homemade soup is the stock. And stock is kind of an important part of any soup recipe…

Store bought stock comes with ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils and “caramel color.” Plus, for as much soup as I’d like to eat this season, it gets expensive to buy can after can of the flavorful liquid.

In the past, I’ve made my own vegetable stock. The recipe is pretty straight forward – water, vegetables, and seasoning. But, I felt so guilty for buying fresh produce and dunking it directly into boiling water for four hours. It seemed like an incredible waste of edible veggies, and not really any cheaper than buying canned stock.

So, in an effort to reduce food waste and feel better about soup stock, I’ve turned to a more sustainable process.

Almost every time I prep a meal, I end up with veggie scraps – onion ends, carrot peels, celery tops, etc. Rather than tossing them in the trash, or even directly into the compost bin, I’ve been squirreling them away in the freezer. Within a couple weeks, I can fill a gallon bag with veggie scraps that are perfect for soup stock.

To make your sustainable stock even more robust, pick up a whole chicken from your local farmer’s market. The chicken will last for a couple meals and then you can freeze the carcass until you’re ready to make some stock.

To make your sustainable stock:

  • In a large stockpot, add the chicken carcass and your big bag of veggie scraps
  • Cover with water (about four cups)
  • Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about four hours
  • Use a fine mesh strainer to separate the liquid from the solids
  • Ta da! Homemade, healthy soup stock!

If you want to save the stock for later, let it simmer a bit longer so it cooks down for  a more condensed stock that’s easier to store. Or, use it right away for a big pot of soup and enjoy!