Soup from Scraps

Sacramento's Freeway Farmer's Market

Sacramento’s Freeway Farmers’ Market

One of the best parts about living in California is the weather. Sunny and warm is the forecast here more often than not- and this central New York native still hasn’t tired of it.

This fantastic climate means a year-round growing season. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. There’s a reason we’re known as the salad bowl of America.

Today's haul from the farmers' market.

Today’s haul from the farmers’ market.

In Sacramento where I live, there is a year-round Sunday morning farmer’s market under a freeway overpass. It’s one of my favorite things about living here. I pick up amazing produce, see friends from all around town and know I’m getting great food and supporting local farmers.

Last year I started saving my vegetable scraps in the freezer to make my own vegetable stock or broth. What’s the difference? Broth is seasoned, stock is not.

When I realized I was out of store-bought chicken broth (as I was getting ready to make a soup for dinner) I knew it was time to clean out the freezer and make some soup from scraps.

Scraps in the pot, set on high!

Scraps in the pot, set on high!

I searched the web for recipes that use slow-cookers. I dumped my two big bags of scraps in, added about 12 cups of water, some salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. I hunted through my fridge and crisper to see if there were any other sad looking vegetables to add to the cause. Seriously, how much easier could things get?

I let the scraps sit for six hours on high. I stirred it couple of times. The red onions and beets gave the broth a beautiful purple red hue for a while, but alas that disappeared by the morning.

The flavor is deep, interesting and a little sour. My broth includes artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, jicama, lemons, limes, onions, parsnips, radish, turnips and more.

After doing more research, I realize that cruciferous and root vegetables don’t really do well in broth/stock. I’ll probably leave out the artichokes next time, too.

But basically, I’ve made my own soup from scraps with minimal effort and you can too!

Separating cooked scraps from the broth.

Separating cooked scraps from the broth.


Vegetable Scrap Broth
12 cups water
1+ gallon freezer bags filled with vegetable scraps
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme

Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker. Set on high for 5 hours, stir occasionally.

Let cool. Place a mesh strainer over your desired container and ladle in the slow cooker contents to separate out the broth.

Discard the scraps and then enjoy or freeze your broth.

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