Fannie Farmer’s Tips on Preparing Stock for Soups

I recently ran across The Fannie Farmer Cookbook in an antique store. This book was originally published in 1896. Fannie Farmer’s name is still well-known today.

Stock, water enriched by the food cooked in it, is an important ingredient in numerous sauces and soups. Homemade stock brings full-bodied flavor to recipes.

Though stocks may take all afternoon to cook, they are not difficult to prepare. Once the ingredients simmer in a pot, simply check periodically that the stock isn’t cooking too quickly.

Use fresh ingredients. Preparing stock allows cooks to use beef bones, chicken bones, and necks. Onions, parsley, dill, mushroom stems, and celery—including celery tops are foods that go into stock.

Start with cold water as it draws the meat juices into the soup as it comes to a boil. After this initial boil, reduce heat to a simmer.

Partially cover during simmering to maintain the simmer. This reduces the liquid without losing nutrients.

Wait to season with salt until the stock is almost done if you know how you plan to use it. If storing it for later use, do not add salt now because it won’t reduce after being salted. The rule of thumb seems to be to season when you are ready to prepare it for your family.

Strain stock after cooking and set aside to cool, uncovered. It’s best to cool the stock quickly and it can be placed in the refrigerator. Covering the stock while it cools may cause it to sour.

If the stock is stored in the refrigerator, reheat it every three days. Boil for two minutes.

Stock freezes well for future use. One of Fannie’s tips was to freeze the stock in ice trays and then bag the cubes in the freezer—easy to grab a few when needing a small amount!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.