Revitalise your taste buds with soups full of the light and fresh flavours of spring, by Ginny Grant.

An acquaintance who had recently moved to Christchurch sent me a message asking me to direct her to a recipe for a restorative broth. She wanted the type with shreds of chicken and vegetables – the kind that her mother would have made, but Mum was no longer here to ask. That had me musing on the cookery skills that we did or didn’t learn in our childhoods and how easy it is to lose these gifts if they aren’t passed on.

I was working on this feature at the time and hadn’t wanted to be prescriptive on the stock. But at the same time I consider that these springtime, lighter broths need a really good stock for the best flavour. There are some great commercial stocks available, both liquid and powders, and I don’t like to be dictatorial in tone in saying that you shouldn’t use them.

So let me say this. My stocks (vegetable or chicken) always start with onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sometimes I fry them; often I don’t. I like to buy chicken frames (Bostock Brothers for preference) and sometimes I roast them first so they are golden; more often I don’t. If I’m wanting a rich, gelatinous stock I’ll add some chicken wings to the mix. If I cook a chicken, I’ll save the bones and freeze them until I have enough for stock. I also freeze vegetable peelings of carrot, coarse leaves and ends of celery and leeks, tough outer fennel leaves, corn cobs (in season) and mushroom stems and parsley stalks for stocks. Sometimes ginger, chilli and turmeric end up in here too. I might add aromatics like thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Depending on what the final use for the stock is, I may well add star anise, cinnamon, orange peel, lemongrass or makrut leaves.

I cover all of these with water and bring up to a simmer. I skim the scum and cook over a very low heat for at least 30 minutes for vegetable stock or 2-3 hours for chicken stock. Recently I’ve been using a pressure cooker (30 minutes on high pressure with a natural release). I strain through a fine sieve, cool and use or freeze. I never discard the chicken fat. I very rarely clarify the stock.