It's been quite chilly here lately, and we've had the woodstove going most days trying to keep warm while still keeping the natural gas bill down. Last weekend I was making another batch of vegetable soup stock, and I thought I would emulate Ma Ingalls for a while and cook it on the woodstove. It worked out really well! I just had to keep the damper turned down a little bit so I wouldn't boil the heck out of everything. As you can see in the picture, I also kept the dutch oven a bit off to the side as well, where there wasn't quite as much heat. We recently came into a batch of wire coat hangers and so I'm going to bend these into a little grill type thing, like my mom used to have to keep the tea pot a little ways off the stove burner. That way I should be able to keep the soupstock down to a nice simmer.
It is unbelievably easy to make soupstock. I found some information on the main ingredients in a recent issue of Mother Earth News magazine, and I adjusted a few things to my taste and also depending on what I happened to have in the house at the time. Basically, I just fill my dutch oven with about 2 litres of water and then add some unpeeled potatoes, carrots, onions and their peels, some peppercorns, some sea salt, some parsley if I have it, some celery and the leaves, a garlic clove with its peel, and whatever dried or fresh herbs I have around, usually oregano, thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf or two. I let this simmer for 3 hours or so, and then drain the liquid off into canning jars. I usually get about 1 litre of stock which is enough for the two of us for a couple of weeks. I usually eat some of the 'potage' that's left, and the rest goes into the compost bin. I just love knowing what is, and isn't, in my soupstock. And I do like to pretend to be Ma Ingalls now and then too!