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Soup Up: Homemade Everything Adds Dose of Health to the Pot

Cooking doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. In fact, with a little planning and some solid recipes — homemade foods will easily and tastily land on your table.

Though I have always been into cooking and baking my own food, it took me until after college to really dive into the hobby — and now I'm dead set on a mission to turn hobby into every day lifestyle.

It took me until after college because that is when, sadly, I could finally afford to purchase and consume the foods called for in the recipe books on my shelves. Sure, the occasional souffle, homemade soup ... even some roasts ... made my menu plans during my student years — but things have greatly improved since I have joined the world of regular paychecks.

It doesn't have to be expensive to eat healthy and whole foods — but it is easier when your budget is flexible. In the past couple years, my boyfriend and I have made a serious effort to eat more homemade foods, and consume less off those processed foods with ingredients that could mostly be labeled "we-don't-know-where-it-came-from."

This is why homemade roasted vegetable stock was a recipe that recently came to fruition inside my kitchen walls. In the past, we've made our own chicken stock — but with the idea of being more economical we though, "What's wrong with just veggies?"

The stock is really easy to make. You chop a bunch of veggies, add some olive oil and spices, and bake for about a half an hour before adding to water and simmering for another 45 minutes. Press out the veggies, and vwoila! (See the recipe below.)

After the stock was made, we decided on a White Bean Soup with Chorizo and Kale. The recipe comes from a book called, "Sunday Soup," which has one soup recipe for at least every week of the year, divided into seasons.

Last but not least on my homemade list for the week was whole wheat crackers. I have been making these for a couple months now, in double batches, as an alternative to buying Wheat Thins or other products with not-sure-what-that-is ingredients, and — not to brag — I think I am becoming some what of a "pro."

Here's the recipe for the whole wheat crackers. Take it from this pro, I recommend making a double batch — the crackers will go fast! This week I substituted crushed red pepper and ground black pepper for the paprika for a different flavor and a spicier cracker.

While these homemade options means my time spent in the kitchen equaled ... a lot ... every time I take on a homemade project I feel it more easily becoming my lifestyle and not a timely burden.

Cooking can become easy for you, too. Myself and Fox Point-Bayside Local Editor Sarah Worthman plan to bring our kitchen stories to your table on a regular basis, so check back to Patch for regular cooking updates with recipe tips and ideas.

Made-from-scratch Roasted Vegetable Stock

Makes 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, halved and cut into 1-inch thick wedges
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch thick pieces
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light green pats only, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch-think pieces, leaves reserved
  • 4 plum tomatoes, quarted, membranes and seeds removed
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, halved (or quartered, if very large)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 teapsoons kosher salt
  • 5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Roast for 35 minutes. (Some of the vegetables will be quite browned, that's fine).

Transfer vegetables to a large saucepan. Add 8 cups water, the celery leaves, parsely sprigs, bay leaves, and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook at a simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and strain stock, pressing down firmly on the vegetables to exhaust as much liquid as possible. (Stock can be prepared 2 days ahead; keep covered and refrigerated. To freeze, place in a freezer container, label with name and date, and store up to 3 months.)

Source: "Sunday Soup: A Year's Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy to Make Recipes" by Betty Rosbottom

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