Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lessons in Love and Lobster Stock

I grew up with a Mom who makes the best chicken soup in the world. This chicken soup chases away the winter chill and cures colds. It provokes a happy dance when I find a container tucked away in the freezer and whatever else I might have had planned for dinner goes out the window. A couple of winters ago I caught a nasty cold and was just miserable. With bleary eyes and a Cathy Moriarty voice, ensconced in a tissue empire on the couch, I begged my husband to call my Mom and ask her for the recipe for her soup. He rolled his eyes but he dutifully called her and he tried to re-create it, but he ended up doing things just a bit too much his own way. A few days later when I was feeling better, I phoned Mom and said, "well, he really loves me to go to all that trouble; but between you and me, Mom, it just wasn't the same." With hot buttered toast made with fresh bread from Parziale's,  I'm pretty sure this soup could inspire world peace. You just cannot be mad when you have a mouthful of that rich, golden broth. It's all because Mom makes her own chicken stock.
Mom & Grammie; 1970s
Why does Mom make her own stock? The foodies among us would say "because it tastes fantastic!" and that's certainly true. But I'd say it's more because she learned this important lesson from her mother, "waste not; want not." It's that simple. My grandmother was born the fourth of six children. She was helping to care for her youngest brother and sister by the time she was six years old. Grammie left her family home in England to elope with her husband and move to America when she was in her very early twenties. It certainly wasn't the land of milk and honey for them. They lived a very frugal life in a small apartment in the Bronx. In order to be able to continue to put food on the table during lean years Grammie certainly knew well how to stretch a meal.

As the title suggests, this post isn't really about chickens, but when your mother shows up at your door to gift you with lobster you don't just tear off the claws and tail and throw the rest in the trash. No, when you keep a copy of a photo (above) on your fridge as a constant reminder of the two women who first taught you how to cook, and taught you with the most love, you honor the way they taught you to respect your ingredients and to manage your kitchen finances. And how do you honor them? By squeezing every last little bit you can out of those lobsters! And so, in honor of my first culinary instructor, and in honor of her first culinary instructor, here is a recipe for lobster stock so that you too may make the most out of your next lobster meal at home:

Lobster Stock - makes about 2 quarts
shells from 2-4 lobsters
1T butter
1T tomato paste
2T Marsala wine
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small bunch parsley, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns, whole
1 lemon wedge

Melt the butter in a stockpot and add the shells. Saute for a couple of minutes and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sweat the vegetables until just beginning to turn translucent and add the tomato paste. Deglaze the pan with the marsala. Add the parsley, lemon juice and spent wedge, bay leaf and peppercorns and cover with water. Bring to a simmer (try not to let it boil) and cook, covered, about one hour.

Strain through a colander into storage containers and discard solids. This stock is the perfect base for a whole host of lobster and fish recipes. Store in pint containers and freeze until needed (up to two months).

Stay tuned for my lobster bisque and seared scallops with lobster sauce!

And Mom?

Thank you.


  1. I love being frugal (or a smart cook), I save my shrimp shells, ends of celery and carrots, peels, chicken bones, etc. in my freezer to make stock. I learned this from my mom and my grandma. I haven't ever made lobster stock, I'm bookmarking this and saving my lobster shells.

  2. I loved the story and love the sounds of the stock! Thanks for sharing :-)

  3. Ok, so I'm not a lobster fan, but I love the tribute and the inspiration in this post.

  4. So enjoyed this post and cheers to your Mum and your Mum's Mum. That is so precious, to be taught by them both. What a way to honour them with this lobster stock. Fabulous! Cheers also to no more nasty colds this winter (although not so sure - that soup sounded delicious!)

  5. It's moment like these that I hate being allergic to shellfish.

  6. I'm with grubarazzi - I love seafood, but I'm allergic! I make my own chicken stock and I waste NO part of the bird. I also use washed peels from vegetables. It makes delicious stock....

    I loe the picture of your mother and her mother....a real keeper! New follower on Google Follower!

  7. that stock looks so rich I'd want to drink it straight! But I would save a little for the lobster bisque; that's my favorite soup


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