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Morning Edition visits the kitchen of Chef Joyce Doughty for some inflation-busting soup hacks

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Curtis Hemmert, The Chef Within
Chef Joyce Doughty's tips on stocks, creams and everything soup are a featured attraction in The Chef Within

Information Resources Inc. expects this to be the “most pricey Thanksgiving” in recent memory. And while U.S. shoppers are doing their best to stretch their food dollar at the grocery store, one of Idaho’s best chefs says one of the best inflation-busting hacks begins with an audit of what we already have in the refrigerator.

“Look in your fridge first … see what needs to be used up,” said Chef Joyce Doughty, author of the bestselling The Chef Within. “Those leftovers are wonderful components.”
And then, Chef Doughty says, the real magic begins – with soup.

Doughty visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to share some tips that are as mouth-watering as they are economical.

“You can spend a whole day making a stock. But let's be practical. We can get really good results by just doing a couple of simple things.”
Chef Joyce Doughty

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Frost on the pumpkin. Here we are in November. The holidays are ahead of us, and it is time for comfort and comfort food. So, let's visit the kitchen of chef Joyce Doughty. And we're always reaching for her bestselling book, The Chef Within. Chef Doughty. Good morning.

CHEF JOYCE DOUGHTY: Good morning, George. It's great to be with you.

PRENTICE: So I have asked you for a few minutes to talk about soup. And there is nothing better than homemade soup. And any time that I can make something as opposed to open another can, it's always a better experience.

DOUGHTY: Oh, yes.

PRENTICE: Well, perhaps we can. We can talk about making a good stock because I think that that's a great base. I remember my mom having really great stocks and then, of course, that could turn into Mediterranean or Italian or Mexican, whatever. So, talk to us about making a good stock.

DOUGHTY: You know, when you said we were going to talk about soups, I said, yippee. This is the time of year. And I thought, you know, there are two or three helpful tips that I might share that might get people feeling a little more comfortable about making their own soups, If I could…and you're right, stocks is at the heart of it. And when I went to cooking school, oh, my gosh, I mean, you could spend a whole day making a stock. But let's be practical. We really don't have that kind of time. And we can get really good results by just doing a couple of simple things. And something I do is I have a gallon Ziploc bag in my freezer. And any time if I buy leaks and I'm just using the bottom half, gosh, leeks are so expensive, I wash the top half the green and I throw it in that bag, put it into the freezer, or if I'm using fennel or something and I'm not using the tops, I cut those off. I put them in that bag, send it to the freezer. Same with any like asparagus tips or, or those really heavy barky broccoli stems. All those things that you hate to throw away because you're paid good money for it. I just put them in that bag. The other thing that's really great to save is if you are somebody that buys those roasted chickens at the market, that makes such a wonderful quick meal, well, you pull off all the meat and you're left with this carcass. And that carcass will help make a wonderful stock. So you can take all those bones and throw that in the bag, too, and put it in the freezer for when you're ready for it. Then you just take that bag of frozen ingredients and you dump it in a big kettle. You fill it with water, maybe two or three inches over whatever the top line is of ingredients. Throw in a bay leaf, maybe some garlic cloves of garlic and just put it on to simmer. And this is a great Saturday project if you because it can just simmer for hours, you can just put it on low and let it go, stir it occasionally to sort of mix things up and release some more of the the little corners where it might need some jostling and just let that simmer until it it reduces. And you have this wonderful stock, and you can use it, of course, that same day. But sometimes we just want to have the stock on hand for another time so you can strain all those ingredients. You get a colander out with a bowl underneath it, pour the contents of that kettle into the colander, and all this wonderful juice drips out and then take that if you have quart jars or, I don't know, some kind of container that you trust, then pour that broth into quart jars, making sure you leave a couple of inches of headroom because it will expand as it freezes and just put them in the freezer until you're ready for that soup. And then as you were saying, you can customize those broth soups. If you wanted to do Mexican, you can simmer it with some additional seasonings like human or cumin seed or there are so many things, maybe a whole chili pepper or whatever you're kind of in the mood for as you're making the soup or Mediterranean. Then you would probably add some more garlic. And I don't know if you like those flavors, do you, George?

PRENTICE: I do. With the kidney beans or the garbanzo beans. Maybe even a little bit of pasta in there.

DOUGHTY: Yes. Yes. And those are all great. Oh, and kale. Kale is a really popular ingredient to throw into a Mediterranean style. And just remember, if you are adding pasta to add it at the very end of the cooking period. And a quick.

PRENTICE: Question, when we are making a stock from bones or some meat, there's that thin layer of fats. That comes to the top right as a chill. Chill. Yes. That's not a bad thing, right? That's keeping it right from spoiling.

DOUGHTY: Exactly. No, that's a that's a good point. So you should leave that fat on there. You can even use it. There's great flavor in the fat, but I usually try to skim it off right before I'm going to use it. And then you're just left with a healthier, if you will, broth. But yeah, that's a good point, that that fat does rise as it cools. So it separates and you have the opportunity to remove it if you want to do that. You know, there was one other thing I was going to mention. This is this time of year, it seems like there's so many recipes for squash and I love like a pureed squash soup. So good. But one of my least favorite tasks is to cut into a hard winter squash. It is dangerous beyond belief. So what I typically do, if a recipe says Peel the squash, cut it into squares, simmer it and then puree it, That's ridiculous to go to all that work, cutting little squares when you could just take the squash, maybe cut it in half once, turn it upside down on a roasting pan or a cookie sheet and throw it in the oven, roasted at any temperature you like until it's tender, and then you can remove it, scoop out the seeds, remove the skin and just puree it. It's just so much safer. I want people to remember that when they're making their next squash soup because that's important.

PRENTICE: I love that. We've got just a couple of minutes left…let’s briefly chat about creamed soups. Indeed, they are favorites, right?

DOUGHTY: They are, yes. And you can actually use a lot of heavy cream to make a soup. I yeah, I tend to make a white sauce and thin it down. And then on the side you would sauté your broccoli or your onions or whatever you do, you're going to add and then incorporate it into that white sauce, maybe gradually adding some cheese, if that's what you want to do. And then you have at the very end you have an opportunity to add a little bit of cream.

PRENTICE: It can be as a splash. It can be more than a splash. Exactly. But indeed, it's got that that flavor, that texture, that comfort.

DOUGHTY: Right. One other thing I was thinking about in terms of the soups. So, so many times we go to the Internet, and we find a recipe and we make it. What chefs would do in a restaurant is they would look in your fridge first, see what is what needs to be used up. Those leftovers are wonderful components to add to a soup, so maybe see what ingredients you have on hand. Then go on Google Soups with, let's see, leftover carrots or whatever it is that you have in your fridge. And you will be surprised with how many wonderful ideas you'll get and then you'll be able to use those things that are in the fridge and make an awesome soup as well.

PRENTICE: That's a great idea because let's face it, we are coming into the season of leftovers, right? That's right. With parties, with larger dinners, we're congregating again. The fact is we will have more leftovers. And the last thing we want is to throw things out when we know that the price of food isn't going down any time soon. So, it really is about right. And soups are a great response. It's a great response to that.

DOUGHTY: Exactly. Oh, I agree completely.

PRENTICE: Well, I look forward to many more visits as we approach the holidays, and we'll visit your kitchen again. But for now, Chef Joyce Doughty, author of The Chef Within. And if it is not within your reach on a coffee table or your kitchen counter, definitely consider the chef within for now. Chef Joyce Doughty, thanks so very much for giving us some time this morning.

DOUGHTY: You're very welcome. Thank you, George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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