The results are in! The outcome of the Souper Stock Saturday Challenge…
Last weekend, Kristin from Mamacino and I were discussing stock – cubes, powders, the additives, the “natural flavours” the enhancers, the potential inclusion of genetically modified ingredients, trans fats and the fact that despite this, we don’t often have the time to make our own from scratch. So we set ourselves the challenge this week to come up with a decent recipe for homemade stock. Kristin is a lovely cook and she infuses all her recipes with love, wholesome ingredients and where possible organic produce and so she was the perfect person to come up with a great liquid stock recipe. I as the naturopath and ex-scientist set myself the challenge to make a stock cube.
I wanted a Souper Stock Cube and Powder that:
- Was shelf or long term stable.
- Wouldn’t take up a lot of room wherever it was to be stored.
- Wouldn’t take a lot of time to make (either the first time it was prepared, or subsequent times it was used).
- Contained less sodium than the commercial low-salt stock cubes I’ve been using.
- Contained readily available ingredients.
- Is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
- Is dairy-free (some stock cubes contain additives derived from dairy)
- Contains herbs (As it is national herbal medicine week)
I’ve given more background under The challenges with the challenge heading below after the recipe and preparation information for those who are interested in the “how”… for now… without further ado… here it is! I hope you like it:-).
For 1 jar g in jar /cube or serve
Himalayan crystal salt 7 and ¾ tsp 50g 1g
Onion powder 15 tsp 50g 1g
Garlic powder 11 tsp 40g 0.8g
Nutritional yeast 21 tsp 35g 0.7g
Brown sugar 7tsp 25g 0.5g
Carrot & celery 5 tsp 13.3g 0.26g
Parsley flakes 2 tsp 1.25g 0.025g
Thyme (dried) 1 tsp 1.25g 0.025g
Cayenne Pepper ¼ tsp 0.6g 0.02g
*Olive oil ¼ tsp – ½ tsp
All measurements are in metric teaspoons or g. If you want to see which brands I have used have a look further down under the Options heading.
How to make the Souper Stock Powder:
- If you choose to include carrot and celery: Wash 1 organic carrot and 2-3 leafy celery tops (from organic celery). Slice the carrot thinly (you could use a mandolin or if your cheese grater has a slicing option use that). Separate the leaf from the stalk of the celery. Lay the vegetables out on a tray and dehydrate at 115°C (I’ve used an Excalibur dehydrator and it takes approx 8 hours depending on the humidity on the day, smaller machines will take a little longer and if you don’t have a dehydrator you could use the oven… see Options below). This made approximately 5 tsp of powder which was used in this recipe, you can add more or less depending on your taste preferences. When the carrot and celery tops are completely dry, grind the blend to a find powder either using a mortar and pestle or a coffee/ herb grinder using the fine setting).
- Weigh or measure out and combine; Himalayan crystal salt, onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, brown sugar and cayenne pepper and grind to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle. Then add carrot and celery powder and ensure it is all combined.
- Weigh or measure out the thyme and parsley and grind with mortar and pestle, you want some pieces of herb to still be visible so don’t break it down to as fine a powder as the above mix.
- Add the thyme and parsley to the salt etc. Mix and combine well.
How to make Souper Stock Cubes:
- To a small container add 1 and ¾ tsp of Souper Stock Powder and ¼ to ½ tsp of olive oil (the closer to ¼ tsp you can add the better as ½ tsp becomes a little over-powering taste wise when it is made into liquid). This makes 1 cube, to make a tray just multiply the amount above by the number of cubes you want to make eg. 2 cubes are 3.5 tsp of stock powder and ½ tsp – 1 tsp of olive oil.
- Using the end of a metal skewer (eg the loop) or a small spatula or spoon, combine the powder and oil until the mix is moist.
- Line an ice-cube tray with plastic wrap (see the Options heading below for alternatives to plastic wrap) and pack the powder in as tightly as you can, pressing the mix down with your index finger.
- Place tray in freezer to firm up and also for storage. Remove cube as needed. They will crumble more easily than commercial stock cubes so I wouldn’t remove them from the ice-cube tray until you need to use them.
Serving Size: Souper Stock Powder and Cubes
Serving size as powder : 1 ¾ tsp (4.33g) add to 250ml of boiling water to make 1 cup of liquid stock.
Serving size as stock cube: to 1 Souper Stock Cube add 250 ml of boiling water.
Recipe below makes 216.4 g and makes 45 cups of stock. I have found it fits well in an old salsa jar.
Sensitivity information: This recipe contains no added: dairy, soy, gluten or nuts. It contains nutritional yeast, and some of the products I have used may have traces of gluten so substitute with brands that are suitable to your dietary needs. In addition this recipe contains salt (Himalayan crystal salt) and brown sugar so people watching their sodium and sugar intake need to be mindful of this) Read more about the sodium content under the heading sodium below
More information …..
- You could use an alternative fat source like coconut oil, which makes the cube set firmer, however I found during the week that as it has quite a characteristic smell it doesn’t always combine with the savoury dishes you usually make the stock for. However, the Spiral coconut oil brand has less of a “coconutty smell” than the others I’ve tried, although, generally, I prefer my coconut oil to smell like coconut oil. Hence, I’ve gone with olive oil for this recipe.
- I’ve used Masterfoods for the dried herbs you could dry out your own herbs if you have a dehydrator and the herbs or use your preferred brand of dried herbs etc.
- If you don’t have a dehydrator you could use your oven (I’ll get more information on this as I cant do this with my oven). Additionally you can either look for a commercially available dehydrated vegetable powder (consider raw food or organic produce stockists), or omit the dehydrated vegetables all together).
- My savoury/ nutritional yeast flakes are the Lotus brand (these may have traces of gluten so please read the sensitivity note below and find a brand suitable to your needs).
- Sweetener alternatives. I’ve used brown sugar because I thought it would help the cube “clump” better, however you could experiment with using stevia or a sweetener that is more suitable to your needs.
- An alternative to the plastic wrap is to use patty pans but didn’t have any small enough. Alternatively you could forgo the stock cube and just use the Souper Stock Powder.
I compared the sodium in 1 cup of stock from a commercial stock cube (1/2 cube based on their directions and nutritional panel) with sodium from 1 cup of stock made with 1 and ¾ tsp Souper Stock Powder mine comes in between 385-400mg (taking the veggies and herbs into account too) and the sodium listed for 1 cup of liquid on the salt reduced commercial product is 492mg. So the Souper Stock Powder is on par, with salt reduced stock cube products on the market, although stock cubes contain more sodium than salt reduced stock powders. The over-all salt (and subsequently sodium) in this powder could probably be lowered further, so if I tweak this recipe further in the future in a Souper Stock 2 recipe – I’ll let you know, alternatively, if you do it first, please let me know:-). Also, bear in mind that sodium doesn’t = salt. The amount of sodium in 1g of table salt is approximately (393mg).
The challenges with the challenge…
Our journeys are detailed on our respective facebook pages: Kristin’s on Mamacino and mine on Lisa White Naturopath. Kristin had a reasonably smooth ride, and some fun whilst doing her research and you can read about it on her blog as well. I chose the cube because I had a thought early on about making a powder and a dream where I made a stock cube:-). A few weeks ago when I was grinding the cashews for the white chocolate it occured to me that I could grind dehydrated veggies into a powder (at the time I was thinking about a home-made “vitamin powder”) also whilst making Sonya’s brownie slice recipe (I realised that I could use coconut oil as a “binder” when I made a hedgehog slice by combining the base and the chocolate top layer). My biggest challenge was not being a natural soup lover (I really only started enjoying soup recently),so the challenge was it was what to put in it besides salt, sugar, yeast extract and fat (which is what I could pick out in the commercial cubes). Consequently I had a few entertaining hiccups (I don’t recommend making a cabbage powder and inhaling deeply;-). In addition, my big pantry and spice cupboard clean out last week was rather poorly timed as I threw away a few containers of commercial stock cubes and powders because of their additives which would have been very useful this week! Unfortunately without them it limited my comparisons which would have helped gauge my final product. It has also occurred to me while writing this up (and I am a little embarrassed to admit) that I could have surfed the net to see if anyone had made homemade stock cubes previously and to find pointers…I didn’t, instead I was researching sodium levels and revising some of my chemistry! Oh well, all in all though, I had a lot of fun and it was a flash back to the days in the lab (as well as a realisation about just how much chemistry and maths you can get rusty on when you don’t use it!!).
But how does it taste?
All in all, I think I managed to achieve the goals I set for myself with the challenge and I was actually really surprised by how the stock cube tasted and smelled like a “real” stock cube and the powder was comparable with a commercial stock powder (albeit somewhat more subtly flavoured). There are obvious differences between the powder and the cube, but this occurs with the commercial products too, and when you aren’t adding flavour enhancers or “natural flavours” (which do not directly mean coming from the herb or vegetable but usually from a test tube) then it is hard to pack the same punch in the small volume. All in all, I prefer the ease of the powder as it is one less step to prepare, I can avoid using the plastic and there is slightly more storage space in our pantry than our freezer:-) so I’ll probably stick with the Souper Stock Powder. Now it is over to you… what do you think?