How to make your soup wonderful: Wild food soup stock

nettle soup stock

We’ve mentioned urban foragers and foodie extraordinaires Pascal Baudard and Mia Wasilevic before. They not only forage food, but go on to make really good stuff with it. One of their websites is Urban Outdoor Skills, and I like to go there to check out a section called the Food Lab, where they talk about food products they’re experimenting with, and give how-to’s.

A few months ago Erik brought home a beautiful bouquet of nettles. I decided to try one of the Food Lab projects that intrigued me — Wild Food Soup Stock Preserved with Salt. This is no more than a bunch of finely chopped vegetables, herbs and greens (wild or not) mixed with plenty of salt to preserve it.  I made mine with onion, celery, parsley and those nettles. It makes a strong, salty paste that keeps well in the fridge. My first jar is almost finished, and I’ve been using it for months. It still looks good.

Pascal says this is a traditional European method of making instant soup stock, but instead of using it as a stock by itself, I’ve been using it as a finishing touch at the end of cooking up a pot of something.  It really helps at that tricky moment when you’re standing over your soup pot, spoon in hand, asking yourself, What does this soup need? Somehow it improves the flavor in a subtle, magical way–and in the meantime, garnishes the soup with tiny bright confetti flecks of green. Note that this stuff is super-salty–so I hold back on the salt until I add this, and then add more if necessary.

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  1. The recipe has been in my family for generations. I use the stock the same way you do, and usually avoid the salt at the same time. ;o)) Ask Google for “herbes salees” and check out the pictures.

    • Ooooh! Look at all those jars of goodness! Thanks for giving me the proper name for this elixir.

  2. So, in the instructions, it talks about getting rid of air (just as I do when I can tomatoes and hot peppers in my hot water bath canner), and cleaning the lip of the jar to aid in a good seal… but it doesn’t say to actually boil the jars to seal them. Do they need boiled? If so, for how long? Thanks. I think I’m going to try this!

    • No, I don’t think he means for you to can it, as the salt is doing all the work of preservation. I think he just wants the jars sterile and well filled, with a bit of liquid at the top, so they’ll keep over time.

      I just made one jar and kept it in the fridge and was not all that careful about it. It was fine. That much salt could kill anything.

      You should definitely try it!

  3. This concoction puzzled me, but I had just gotten up. Now, at my peak late at night, I wonder–is this similar to the basil and other pastes that are in the produce dept in upscale groceries? They are in a tube like toothpaste. Just a bit is used in each dish.

    • I’d say yes–sort of. This stuff is much more salty than the stuff in tubes, though. It’s an old practice, a way of keeping green herbs on hand through the winter.

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