So much of cooking, especially preserving, is born of necessity. It’s always disturbed me that we didn’t use the pods left from shelling peas. Their skins dense with pea flavor, it seemed a wasted opportunity to just chuck them in the compost. I’d been meaning to experiment with vegetable stocks — both for flavor and as a way to make use of vegetable scraps — and it wasn’t too far a leap to consider making one based on pea pods.
The peas, after blanching, are packed up and frozen for later use. As for the pods, this simple recipe from Anna Thomas’ Love Soup came closest to what I was imagining — a clear infusion that’s versatile to cook with and could be stored through canning.
The base is a classic triumvirate of aromatics — onion, carrots and celery. As we soon found, stocks made solely from vegetables demand a light hand, the delicate balance easily altered by strong flavors. A sprig of thyme added a savoriness that will be welcome come winter, but could be left out for lighter summer dishes. Given what we had on had, we used tiny purple bulblets and stalks from our patch of walking onions, and added a couple of garlic scapes to the mix. We left the pea pods whole and, to extract more flavor, cut the remaining vegetables into small pieces. Another tip is to make sure to start with cold water — vegetables release flavor at differing temperatures — and add enough to barely cover the vegetables as they’ll reduce in bulk during cooking.
The pleasing results from this test batch was surprising, given the short cooking time. One doesn’t usually associate making stock as a summer activity, however, the impact on flavor by using vegetables while they’re fresh and in season makes it a worthwhile endeavor.
Pea Pod Broth
Pods from 3 pounds peas, rinsed
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 to 6 garlic scapes, chopped (optional)
A few sprigs flat-leaf parsley
A sprig of thyme (optional)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
A few peppercorns
3½ quarts cold water
– Place ingredients in an 8-quart stockpot. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and let the broth simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.
– Strain the broth, and discard/compost the vegetables. Adjust salt to taste. Let cool before storing in the refrigerator for one week, or freeze.
Adapted from “Stone Soup” by Anna Thomas.
To process (from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving): Ladle hot stock into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Process pints 30 minutes, quarts 35 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.