Resident Chef Kathy Gunst Takes Stock Of Soup

Oct 30, 2013
Originally published on October 30, 2013 5:02 pm

As the weather turns cooler, Here & Now Resident Chef Kathy Gunst’s thoughts turn to nice warming soups.

And as she tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson, making a simple soup base or stock is easy and a great way to get rid of leftovers.

“Everything that’s in the vegetable bin that looks like ‘uh,oh, if we don’t use it tonight we’re in trouble’ kind of feeling? Throw it into the pot, boil it up, make a soup.”

She brings in her chicken stock as well as Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup with Winter Pesto and Greek-Style Turkey-Lemon-Rice Soup. Here are her recipes:

Homemade Chicken Stock

(printer-friendly PDF of all five recipes)

Kathy’s Note: It’s so easy there’s hardly a recipe.


Clean a whole chicken and place in a pot.

Add 3 carrots cut into 1-inch pieces. Add 3 stalks celery cut into 3-inch pieces. Add 2 large onions, peeled and cut into small pieces. Add 1 bay leaf and 6 peppercorns and salt to taste.

Cover with cold water to almost cover the chicken and vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover. Cook for 1 hour. Taste the stock for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the stock tastes weak simmer for another 15 to 25 minutes without the lid.

The stock can be strained and frozen for up to a year or kept tightly sealed in the refrigerator for a week.

Use the chicken and vegetables in salads, tacos, or added back into the soup.

Kathy Gunst’s Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup

Kathy’s Note: Cubes of winter vegetables – parsnips, butternut squash, celery root, carrots, and celery, along with shallots, leeks and garlic — are roasted until just tender, golden brown, and caramelized and then tossed with a splash of white wine and some good stock. The soup takes less than an hour from start to finish and the results are startlingly complex.


3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch size pieces

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch size pieces

One 2-pound butternut squash, or any type of winter squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch size cubes

2 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch size pieces

1 medium-size celery root (also called celeriac), about 1 ¼ pounds, peeled and cut into ½-inch size pieces

3 leeks, cut lengthwise, cleaned, and cut into ½-inch size pieces

2 shallots, peeled and cut in quarters

8 cloves garlic, 4 left whole and 4 thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried

2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

6 cups vegetable or chicken broth

½ cup dry white wine

Serve with the Winter Parsley Pesto (recipe below)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the parsnips, carrots, squash, celery, celery root, leeks, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and olive oil together in a large very shallow roasting pan. Place on the middle shelf and roast for 20 minutes. Raise the heat to 455 degrees and roast another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, simmer the broth in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Immediately remove the vegetables from the oven and deglaze the pan with the wine, being sure to use a soft spatula to loosen any bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Pour the vegetables and the liquid from the bottom of the pan into the pot with the simmering broth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, partially covered. Serve piping hot with the parsley pesto.

Serves 6 to 8.

Winter Parsley Pesto

Kathy’s Note: A vibrant green pesto, made with parsley instead of basil, and ideal for winter when fresh herbs are scarce. This pesto may be made several hours ahead of time. The pesto will keep, covered and refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen for several months.


1 packed cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a food processor or blender, whirl the parsley and garlic with some salt and pepper until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the oil making sure not to over-process the pesto; it should still be a little chunky. Remove to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Season to taste.

Makes about ¾ cup.

Greek-Style Turkey-Lemon-Rice Soup

Kathy’s Note: This soup is a great way to use leftover chicken stock or turkey stock. The stock is simmered with fresh lemon juice, cream, fresh dill, and egg yolks to create a soothing comforting soup. Orzo or rice is added to thicken the soup.


About 6 cups turkey or chicken broth

½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 ½ tablespoons fresh dill sprigs, finely chopped

2 cups cooked orzo or white rice, at room temperature

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, chopped into bite-size pieces

2 egg yolks

½ to 1 cup heavy cream, depending on how rich you want the soup to be

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Juice from 2 large lemons, about ½ cup

1 lemon, preferably organic, scrubbed and cut into paper thin slices with the seeds removed


Place the broth in a large pot and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Add half the parsley and dill. Add the orzo or rice to the soup, making sure to break up any clumps. Add the turkey and simmer over very low heat.

In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks with the cream, salt and pepper. Add about ½ cup of the hot broth to the bowl and whisk with the yolks. Add the yolks/broth back to the pot with the broth and whisk until fully incorporated.

Add the lemon juice and season to taste. It is important that you don’t let the soup boil; if it does the egg yolk will begin to cook. Whisk the soup gently to smooth it out if the egg begins to curdle. Add the lemon slices and heat about 5 minutes. The longer the soup sits the thicker it will become; add more broth if necessary. Top with the remaining dill and the thin lemon slices.

Serves 6 to 8.


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And as we get further into the fall, we are also getting further into soup season. But before you pick up a can at the supermarket or go get some soup at a restaurant, our resident chef Kathy Gunst says wait. Just make some soup on your own.

Kathy joins us now. And Kathy, I have to say, soup is not what I think of when I think of making something, because it seems like making soup is very complicated, especially if you have to make a soup stock first.

KATHY GUNST: That's why I'm here.


GUNST: We are going to fix this.


GUNST: I - we're going to check it at the end of this segment because it is so, so simple. I mean, there are so many good chicken stocks on the shelves now that you think, well, why would I bother making my own? And the truth is it's pretty easy to make your own, and it's pretty easy to open a box. In front of you are two precisely red bowls. They are exactly the same.


GUNST: One of them is the chicken stock I made. One of them is a leading organic chicken stock from a box. I want you to taste them and see if you can tell the difference.

HOBSON: Uh-oh. I hope I do this well. Otherwise...

GUNST: I hope you do, too, because we could be done. So let me tell you while you're doing this. Why would you bother making your own chicken stock? OK, he's tasting the one that's a little bit darker in color. OK, and then taste the second one, and then I'll answer that question. What do you think?

HOBSON: I think that the lighter one is the store-bought one, and the darker one is made by you.

GUNST: Precisely wrong.


HOBSON: Oh. Wow.

GUNST: Busted.

HOBSON: You are supermarket quality.

GUNST: No. I should be so much better. Making your own stock, here's what you do, OK?


GUNST: And it's no crime to use the store-bought stuff. As you just saw, you thought - you had it completely wrong.


GUNST: I should be insulted, shouldn't I?


GUNST: OK. We'll go ahead.

HOBSON: You should feel good. You have made...

GUNST: I feel good, Jeremy. I feel good.

HOBSON: ...something that people would buy around the world millions of cans of every year.


GUNST: All right. I'm in the wrong business. But I'm going to tell you how I do it, all right? You take a chicken. You put it in a pot. You cover it almost with water. You throw in carrots, onions, celery. You throw in a bay leaf, salt and a peppercorn. You bring it to a boil, you reduce it, you walk away. An hour later, you have chicken stock.

HOBSON: An hour later.

GUNST: And hour later. You taste it, if it's not cooked enough, you keep going. And you have a cooked chicken for the next three nights. But let me tell you something. You can freeze that chicken stock in little containers for over a year. And then every time you want to make soup, you pop it out, and you have your homemade stuff.

HOBSON: And it doesn't have to be chicken based.

GUNST: No. You could do one with vegetable. I have a pot in my kitchen where I put all my vegetable scraps, not the compost to go out in the garden. But when I peel a carrot, I throw it in the pot. When I peel an onion, I put the outer rim in there. If I have an asparagus that looks - I'll throw it in there. And after a few days, I have the makings of a vegetable stock.

HOBSON: You have your famous everything but the kitchen sink.

GUNST: Exactly. It is also a wonderful way to use leftovers. Everything that's in that vegetable bin that looks like, uh-oh, if we don't use it tonight, we're in trouble kind of feeling, throw it into the pot. Boil it up, make a soup. Obviously, you can do this with meat as well.

When I have a turkey at Thanksgiving, when I have a chicken on a regular night, I will eat the chicken. I will then take the carcass, which most people will throw away, and I'll use that as the base of the soup.

HOBSON: Actually, now, that is something I have done before, because we have some good friends who are from New Mexico. They take the carcass of the turkey...

GUNST: Exactly.

HOBSON: ...after Thanksgiving, put green chilies in there...


HOBSON: ...and it's the most delicious food.

GUNST: I forgot you're the spice guy.


GUNST: But you will not believe how much flavor is left in the carcass of a chicken or a turkey after you've roasted it and eaten it. So everything is game for going into a stockpot.

HOBSON: But is there anything wrong with just using the stock out of the can?

GUNST: There's not. They're very high in sodium, so that's something you need to be aware of. But stock is the skeleton of all soup. It is the bones. It is what gives it the flavor. It's the thing you start with.

So even if you're making a miso soup or you want to make the base for a ramen, a popular Japanese dish, you would take a vegetable stock or a chicken stock. You'd add miso and fresh ginger and a dash of soy. If you wanted to make a French soup, you might add cream and some vegetables and puree it and you'd have a thick soup.

Something that's really interesting and not very well known is roasting ingredients for a soup. So in this bowl over here, to your far left or right on your side, the yellow bowl, is a roasted fall vegetable soup. So I took butternut squash and celery root and turnips and leeks from my garden, and I roasted them. Is that sweet?

HOBSON: Oh, that's amazing. That is really good.

GUNST: So all the sweetness from the root vegetables come out, and then the roasting caramelizes it. And then I deglazed it with a little wine, and I threw it in with my homemade stock. And the green there is...

HOBSON: Sorry. I just had to go for a second taste of that.

GUNST: Please do. That's a winter parsley pesto. That's a topping. That is a way of taking a really good soup and making it mind-blowingly good.

HOBSON: Oh, wow.

GUNST: That's just parsley, garlic, olive oil...

HOBSON: This would just be a topping.

GUNST: Just a topping for the soup, or as Jeremy does, you can just eat it straight. It'd be delicious on toast, right?

HOBSON: Oh, man. That is really - you've just transported me to Italy with that pesto.

GUNST: All right. You've redeemed yourself from mistaking my soup for canned soup.


HOBSON: Don't hold it against me.

GUNST: I kind of do.


HOBSON: All right. What is this last one?

GUNST: This last one is a Greek-style orzo lemon soup with some rice. It's got a nice lemon, so it lightens it up. And you use egg yolks to thicken it.

HOBSON: This is an avgolemono.

GUNST: Thank you very much, because I always mispronounce it. So I'm glad you said it. Very light, very simple to make, but incredibly comforting.

HOBSON: I can taste the dill in there.

GUNST: Very good. Exactly what's in there - dill, lemon, orzo, and then fresh vegetables from the chicken stock.

HOBSON: Which you don't always put dill into avgolemono. I've certainly had some without that taste.

GUNST: I like it because it's a really light thing. There are very simple tricks for making soup taste bright. Lemon is one of them - fresh herbs, things like pesto. You can grate cheese on top, make croutons. These are things that make just a regular bowl of soup on a Tuesday night feel like something really special.

HOBSON: And I should say that one of the most important things that this particular soup can be used for - and chicken soup in general during the fall - is everyone gets sick. This is like the best thing.

GUNST: Jewish penicillin, man.

HOBSON: Exactly.

GUNST: Absolutely. I grew up on it. I swear by it. This is the time of year when we're starting to turn indoors and it's getting cold at night. Over the weekend, I made a pot of chicken stock and I made these soups, and it was kind of this cozy, wonderful day. It was kind of cold out and grey, and it's what this season's all about.

HOBSON: What about - you mentioned sodium as a problem with the store-bought stocks.


HOBSON: Is that going to be a problem regardless when you're making soup? Or can you make it with a low amount of salt?

GUNST: Oh, you can make it with a low amount of salt. And what you're going to do to compensate for that is add a lot of fresh herbs and also reduce it. So the more you cook a stock, the stronger the flavors are. So if you're watching your salt intake, don't put a lot in, but just cook it down more than an hour so that you have an intensity of flavor. There are also a lot of really good low-sodium brands if you're using a canned or a boxed stock.

HOBSON: So, Kathy, how often do you have soup throughout the fall?

GUNST: I love it because it's so warming. But I have a friend who had this great idea. She has a Sunday soup supper swap party. So on Sunday nights, about 12 of us get together. Everybody makes a pot of soup, and we have a party. And then we all go home with the leftovers. So all week long I have all these different soups to choose from.

I actually wrote a piece about it in an upcoming Yankee Magazine. The soup supper idea is so much fun. But you can freeze these soups. So if you make a big pot and you get sick of it, put it in your freezer. And in February, you're going to be really happy you had that.

HOBSON: I was speaking with a friend over the weekend who is in Texas and spent the afternoon at a chili cook-off. Does chili fit into the soup category for you? Is it totally different?

GUNST: Mm. I think it's a different piece. It's more of a stew, which is a thicker, hardier thing. I think of a soup as a little bit thinner. But, hey, we're not going fight semantics. Get people in the kitchen.

HOBSON: Soup at the beginning of the fall. And then maybe once we get to snow and winter...

GUNST: You need that stew.

HOBSON: can come back and we'll talk about chilies.

GUNST: With the green chilies. I'm there.

HOBSON: Mm. Oh, it's so good.

GUNST: Absolutely.

HOBSON: Kathy Gunst, HERE AND NOW resident chef. And her latest book, by the way, "Notes from a Maine Kitchen," seasonally inspired recipes. We're going to have all the recipes for everything that I have tasted here today at Kathy, thanks as always.

GUNST: Thanks, Jeremy.


HOBSON: And, Robin, do you have a favorite soup?


You know, I'm always surprised when I realize again that there is a soup other than tomato.

HOBSON: It is a classic, and it's so delicious, especially with a grilled cheese sandwich.

YOUNG: Oh, boy. Like now, we're getting...

HOBSON: Yes. Exactly.


HOBSON: From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.