I had the honor of teaching my second class at Moore Farms Botanical Garden.

During my most recent class, we discussed soup, stews and gazpacho. One of the questions that came up is the difference between stock and broth.

The terms "stock" and "broth" are often used interchangeably. We often substitute one for the other in recipes, but there is a slight difference in preparation. These are very easy to make and extremely versatile.

Stock is made from simmering the bones of your meat, vegetables (carrots, onions, garlic and celery), then adding fresh herbs and spices such as rosemary, thyme, peppercorns or lemons for a long period to extract the flavors from them. Since stock is made from the bones and cartilage, it contains more collagen, which results in a slightly richer texture than broth.

Broth is made from using the meatier parts of your poultry, fish, beef and even vegetables to flavor it. Broth is often lighter than its stock counterpart. Broth can be served by itself.

General guidelines for preparing soup:

>> 1. Intervals: Add vegetables in different intervals as per their individual cooking times. Once flavor is fully developed and all ingredients are tender, soup could be garnished and served.

>> 2. To adjust consistency: If the soup is too thin, a small amount of starch slurry can be added. The soup must be at a simmer or slow boil when slurry is added. Thicker soups such as creams or bisques should be as thick as cold heavy cream and liquid enough to pour from ladle to bowl.

>> 3. Adjusting flavor and seasoning: Season soups throughout the entire cooking process. To enhance flavor, add some fresh herbs, a few drop of lemon juice, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

>> 4. Degreasing: This should be done especially for broth-based soups, which could be prepared in advance and refrigerated to easily remove the congealed fat. If there is no time to do this, then you should skim as much fat from the surface as possible. This can be done by laying a paper towel on the surface and carefully removing before serving. (Consommés should be fat free.)

>> 5. Finishing: Garnish clear soups before serving to prevent from becoming cloudy. To finish cream soups, the cream should be hot before adding to soup.

>> 6. Serving: Soup should be served hot.

One of the soups that we made during class is also one of my favorites. It is healthy, hearty and quick. Enjoy.

Minestrone

Ingredients:

1 fl oz. olive oil

½ lb. diced onion

4 oz. diced celery

4 oz. diced carrot

4 oz. diced green pepper

4 oz. diced green cabbage

¼ oz. minced garlic

1 small can plum tomatoes

1½ qt chicken stock (vegetable stock)

Salt, as needed

Ground black pepper, as needed

2 oz. cooked chickpeas (can be canned; rinse very well)

3 oz. cooked black-eyed peas (can be canned; rinse very well)

3 oz. cooked ditalini

Garnish

5 oz. grated parmesan

Directions:

>> Heat oil in large sauce pot over medium heat.

>> Add onions, celery, carrots, peppers, cabbage and garlic. Sweat until onions are translucent, about 15 minutes.

>> Add the tomatoes with juice, stock, salt and pepper. Simmer 25-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Do not overcook.

>> Add the chickpeas, black-eyed peas and ditalini.

>> The soup is ready to finish now. Garnish with individual portions with grated parmesan.

Sherif Elkhyati is the executive chef at The Inn at the Crossroads in Lake City.