Veal Shank and Vegetable Broth
This weekend's snippet is a rustic, nourishing broth that my mother and father cooked for us kids, sometimes with a whole chicken and the giblets, instead of veal shanks. Their own parents, my grandparents on both sides, most probably cooked it for their children too. And their parents before them most likely taught the recipe to them. My son and daughter, and my sister's three children (and their children), and our partners, all refer to it as 'Nanna Soup'. Comfort food at its simplest.
Nanna Soup is a light, sweet broth that relies on the full flavour of garden or market-fresh vegetables and slices of tender veal shank. The finest part of the shank, those rich little gems of veal marrow are divine with crusty bread.
Use a whole chicken, or wings if you prefer chicken soup (for the soul, as it were). Turkey wings are also surprisingly flavoursome. One of my aunts in Budapest introduced me to using those. However, I do prefer to use veal when it is available from my butcher.
VEAL SHANK AND VEGETABLE BROTH
1 or 2 veal shanks (osso bucco)
1 tablespoon salt
1 onion, peeled, left whole
1 clove garlic, peeled, left whole
4 medium-large carrots, peeled
1 small parsnip, peeled
1 small swedes, peeled
2 sticks celery, whole
1 sprig parsley
1 bay leaf
egg noodles and crusty bread, to serve
Fill a large saucepan or Dutch oven with water. Add the meat and bring to the boil. (For a clearer soup, discard the initial frothy stock, re-fill the saucepan and slowly bring to the boil again). Or, skim off and discard the impurities as the soup gently cooks.
Peel the vegetables, but leave them whole. To peel the onions, use a sharp paring knife and peel away only the outside papery skin, this will leave the onion intact. Add the peppercorns, salt and vegetables to the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer over a low heat, covered, over a low heat for about 2-3 hours. Serve steaming hot with cooked vermicelli style egg noodles and crusty bread. Serves 6.
Nanna Soup has extra meaning, given that my mother is no longer with us. Perhaps, if I am blessed, one day my own grandchildren (to come) will enjoy Nanna Soup. All in good time.
Do you have a favourite family recipe that has a nickname? And what's your favourite comfort food?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.