Turn Scraps into Soup

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On Friday, I wrote about nostalgiancholy being the predominant emotion of the season for me. And that holds true. But as the mornings grow misty and frost etches the windowpanes, I also feel the desire to find abundance in frugality, joy in what we already have. One way to do both, I’ve discovered, is to create a variety of economical stocks from scraps I’ve accumulated that then become the base for soups (and whole grain risottos and sauces and . . . ) all winter long.


Great ideas to snip and save in the freezer for food-scraps stocks are:

  • Leek trimmings
  • Rinds of hard cheeses
  • Heels of prosciutto, pancetta or salami
  • Shrimp or lobster shells
  • Chicken carcasses and wings
  • Beef or pork bones
  • Mushroom stems

And while you can feel free to raid the produce drawer for anything a bit beyond its prime, the golden rule is not to use anything slimy, moldy or smelly.

Formula for a Scraps Stock

  • Char a halved onion, cut side down, with 1/8 cup of unpeeled aromatics (like garlic, ginger, shallots, lemongrass and the like, depending upon the flavor profile you’re shooting for) in a large stock pot over medium heat until well colored, about 5 minutes.
  • Add a total of 4 cups additional coarsely chopped vegetable scraps (leek tops, celery, carrots, mushrooms stems, etc. in any combination) and shells or carcasses, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add 10 cups water, herbs (like bay leaves, thyme and rosemary) and 1 tablespoon miso, and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add in any cheese, cured meat scraps or dried mushrooms.
  • Simmer for anywhere from 40 minutes (for vegetable stocks) to overnight (for chicken or beef stocks)

Note that while stocks should be full-flavored, they are intentionally underseasoned (unlike broths) in order to make them super versatile. This gives you freedom later to reduce the stock or use it in a highly seasoned dish without it imparting too much saltiness.

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Mushroom, White Bean and Sage Soup

If you have mushroom stems stashed away, make this with homemade Mushroom Stock. This gluten-free, vegan soup is hearty enough to make a meal with nothing more than a hunk of good bread.

Mushroom, White Bean and Sage Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Mushroom, White Bean and Sage Soup

If you have mushroom stems and other scraps, you can make our homemade Mushroom Stock. If not, look for premade mushroom stock at the store -- you'll find it with chicken stock. You can slice the potatoes while the mushrooms saute.


  1. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  2. 1/2 cup diced shallot
  3. 6 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  4. 2 tablespoons minced sage
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 6 cups mushroom stock, divided
  7. 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  8. 12 small sage leaves
  9. 2 cups cooked white beans
  10. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add shallot, mushrooms, sage and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes, until mushrooms give off their liquid.

Add 4 cups broth and potatoes ,and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.

While soup is simmering, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and cook until just crisp, 3-4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel and reserve oil.

When potatoes are tender, coarsely puree soup with an immersion blender (or–carefully–in batches in a food processor). Stir in beans and remaining 2 cups broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring back to a simmer until hot.

To serve, drizzle with sage oil and top with fried sage leaves.



  • lmckone

    This sounds fabulous! From articles posted in FB, I’m wishing right about now that I was in the northwestern states with those shrooms that are growing wild! I have everything on hand except for the fresh sage and I’m short a couple of cups of mushrooms….but I definitely am interested in trying this tasty-sounding vegetarian soup! It’s the sage that has me tickled…it makes for an aromic fall/holiday-like season soup and sounds like it will also warm up the whole house as I come in from raking a ton of leaves.

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/mountainrn/ mountainrn

    Oh that does look and sound good. The best soups are from scraps! And fun to make too. It is been pretty warm here – not soup weather the last few days. But I look forward to making this.

  • http://nourishnetwork.com/members/liahuber/ Lia Huber

    Isn’t sage such a fall flavor? And one that takes us all the way through the holidays.

    Steph . . . It’s gotten warm here again too, although I have a new found commitment to soups. And this is a goodie.