During the cold months of the year, soup is on a lot of people’s minds. A good rich soup that warms you to the core just isn’t the same without a high quality stock as it’s base. Beef stock can be made as easily as any other, but with a couple extra steps becomes the perfect hearty base for any winter soup.Jump to Recipe
The Best Bones
For chicken stock the bones to use are obvious, since chickens are much smaller. But for beef stock, picking which bones you use can bring different levels of flavour. Thinner bones like ribs are still perfectly fine to use, but they have less flavour than thicker bones. What brings that extra flavour to the beef stock is the marrow inside the bones. Try to find wider bones that look like they are full of a pale slightly softer substance. That’s the marrow and it’s a flavour goldmine. Knuckle bones are also excellent and they bring the added benefit of higher gelatin levels to the beef stock. Ask your meat counter or butcher, as they don’t always put bones out on the shelves.
The other step that’s really key to a good beef stock is roasting the ingredients first. Roasting deepens all the flavours, and adds some caramelization to the vegetables. Similarly to searing a piece of meat, roasting and browning the bones will cause a maillard reaction, making them a much for flavourful addition to the beef stock.
When I make any stock, I don’t add salt. That way when I use the stock later, I can add salt without worrying that it will be too much. But I do want my beef stock to have a little bit of flavour enhancement, beyond plain roasting. All of the chefs I’ve worked with, as well as the butchers I’ve worked with, added tomato paste to their roasting ingredients. Tomatoes are a very umami filled vegetable and lend that savoury taste to the foods around them. By coating the meat and vegetables in a layer of tomato paste before roasting, they will take on an intense umami flavour. It’s a quick extra step, but I promise you’ll be glad you did it.
- Very large pot
- 3.5 kg Beef Marrow Bones (7lbs 11oz)
- 4 Medium Onions Halved
- 4 Large Carrots Cut into medium chunks
- 6 Stalks of Celery Cut into medium chunks
- 1 Can Tomato Paste
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 2 tsp Peppercorns
- 1 Sprig Rosemary
- Approximately 20cups Cold Water (just under 5L) Enough water to fill your pot and cover all the ingredients.
- Heat the oven to 425F.
- Combine the bones, onions, carrots, and celery in two roasting pans. Divide the tomato paste between the two pans. Toss and stir the ingredients until everything is fully coated in tomato paste.
- Roast the two pans for about 30-35 minutes, stirring once throughout. Until everything is browned all over.
- Once everything is roasted, add everything to your largest pot. Fill the pot all the way with cold water. Add bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and rosemary to the pot.
- Bring the pot just up to a boil, then immediately turn the temperature down to a low heat. Allow to simmer for 3-5 hours, until the stock has reduced by about 1/2. You can let it reduce even further if you'd like, but keep an eye on it. As it reduces, it will begin to reduce more quickly, and you don't want your pot to dry out.
- When it's reduced to your liking, carefully strain into a bowl. Allow the stock to cool slightly at room temperature, then move the bowl into the fridge. Allow to cool fully. During the cooling, all the fat will harden on top, and you can remove it easily before canning, or freezing the stock.
- If you want, you can re-boil the bones and veggies 1-2 more times, and get more stock. The stock will become less flavourful the more times you boil it, but getting the most out of your ingredients is always good. I usually get three rounds of stock out of a batch of bones and veggies.