Delayed post, originally drafted on September 21, 2014. I’m developing an unfortunate habit of writing things and then not posting them if I don’t have the perfect photos, or if I would have done something very differently. This Must End. I give you, belatedly and with No Illustrations At All, Sassi and the One Year Soup.
TL;DR: Make soup stock out of more than one kind of protein. Be amazed.
I’ve had some unprepossessing grayish lumps in my freezer for nearly a year. They are labelled “Magic Clam and Lobster Broth.” I have a birthday tradition, in the less-lean years, of getting lobsters and clams from Maine. Coming up on Lobster Weekend 2014, I was trying to use up the stock I have left from last year. (I’m also reminded that I never posted the recipe for Lobster Waffles, because I couldn’t figure out what to tell folks to use for the broth, given that it’s mean and obnoxious-foodie-privileged to expect people to have clam and lobster broth just lying around. I’ll try to do some tests with bottled clam juice and maybe some frozen lobster tails or something…)
I don’t use the phrase “mind-blowing” or its variations very often (because they are clickbait shibboleths), but I’ll use one here. I got my mind blown watching the last season of Top Chef. In a challenge in which all contestants had to use a SPAM product, Nicholas made a broth with “SPAM broth, ponzu, a little bit of pancetta, a ton of seaweed, dried shrimp, fish stock, and clam juice.” Something in my head went “Poiiooiinnggg!” The most proteins I ever remember using before in a single recipe is two, during a dim sum extravaganza with my godfamily; there was a recipe that called for something like 1/4 cup of shrimp stock and 1/4 cup of pork stock, which seemed crazy to me at the time.
So, for the last few months, I’ve been saving random bits of clean, easily-combined stocks. Whenever I made shrimp, I would boil down the shells and save that broth. Poaching some bone-in chicken breasts with ginger? Save that broth. Not the more aggressively French broths I like to make–no mirepoix, or overbearing celeriac, or red wine (those get saved on their own merits). Just simple protein flavors with mild and friendly hints of ginger, garlic, salt, pepper. Even just a half-cup of something worth saving.
Last week I mixed a bunch of my freezer-broths together and tasted them. They needed some depth, some supporting structure; I went with pork bones. There’s now a bowl of magical multi-critter soup broth in my refrigerator, ready to get some shrimp and very thinly sliced pork layered into it with zucchini noodles and shreds of sweet and hot peppers and something called Summer Jean, courtesy of Potomac Vegetable Farms’ stand at the Takoma Farmers Market. This is a callback to the “OMG Spicy Noodle Soup I Love You” of 2012. It’s also (I’m realizing as I write) my Grandmothers reminding me to clear out the pantry and make some space for all the broths of winter.