I'm toying with the idea of making some soup - just a simple one. The recipe call for boiling/simmering a pig-knuckle for about four hours together with a laurel-leaf. Afterwards the stock/fond is strained, the meat stripped from the knuckle, and vegetables and the meat is put into the fond to make the soup - which should boil for another 10 minutes.

The thing is, I was wondering if I could do something more with it. I thinking about adding vegetables, herbs and spices when cooking/simmering the knuckle, to add flavor to the stock and/or meat.

I was thinking root-vegetables like celery-root, beats and carrots... perhaps leek... perhaps onions, perhaps garlic - maybe after frying them lightly in some butter (before adding the water to cook the knuckle)... I guess black pepper would be OK, but what about chili? And what about some fresh herbs and spices?

My first thought would be to strain the stock and throw-away the out-boiled vegetables, since I'll be adding fresh ones to the soup anyway... But could some (eg. the root-vegetables) or all be puraied in a mixer and added to the soup to make it "thicker" - and perhaps add flavor?

I you probably understand, I'm a lot better at eating food than making it, so any advice would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Hi, I edited your title, because on first glance, I thought it is asking which vegetables taste well in a pig knuckle soup. This would have been off topic (we don't do pairing questions, they are subjective), and we don't want others to make the same mistake, so I reworded. If I misunderstood your meaning, you can re-edit it.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:28
  • Thanks! :-) English is not my first language - especially not the parts about cooking. Oct 1, 2014 at 12:08

4 Answers 4


There's no reason why you couldn't boil vegetables as you make the stock and then puree them in as a base. It's really about taste and the result you want.

Making the stock without vegetables in it will give you a clear broth with a simple pork flavor and the vegetables will be distinct in it. If you add vegetables while cooking the stock and then puree them in your base will be much more vegetable-y, and opaque - the color will be determined by the vegetables added. The pork taste will be a bit more hidden by vegetable flavors.

Spices and herbs are 2 separate matters. In general you can overcook herbs very easily but it's hard to overcook spices (although some spices can change during long cooking times). Adding bay (laurel) is one of the exceptions herb-wise. Spice-wise adding at the beginning will make the spice permeate the meat, careful not to overdo it though.

Like I said it's all about the look and taste you want.


If you are going to cook a stock for 4 hours, the flavor of the vegetable will contribute to the overall flavor of the stock...but not be so great in vegetables themselves...and their texture will be very soft. I would strain and de-fat the stock... then use the stock you created to build your soup. Add vegetables at this point and cook just until the vegetables are cooked through. This would provide both the best flavor and texture of the vegetables. Use the same process if you want to puree some or all of the soup.


Add vegetables and herbs and bay leaf to enrich the stock, but these must be removed (and eaten as a pre-dinner treat) or pureed as suggested above. Add fresh vegetables and allow to cook to create an amazing stew. I also add one dollop of butter and sprinkle on a little more of the herbs. Bon appetit!


When making soups, stews, stocks, etc. Think of where you want the flavor to go. If you want the flavor in the liquid, then cook the items (meat, veg) longer until their flavor leaves them and dissolves into the surrounding liquid. Done correctly, this will leave those items flavorless and mushy at the end.

If you want the flavor to remain in the items themselves, cook them for shorter periods of time so their flavor does not migrate into the cooking liquid.

If you want soup, stew, stock, etc. to have both good tasting items AND good tasting liquid, you'll need two batches of items: One to flavor the liquid and the other to remain flavorful in the final dish.

When making the liquid, cook one batch of items for a long time until their flavor has moved into the liquid. Generally, their flavorless remains should be removed at the end, although the now-tasteless vegetables can be pureed to give body to the liquid.

For the final soup/stew, add new items to your now flavorful liquid and cook them only long enough to attain the texture your desire.

If you try to compromise and cook the items only long enough to lose some of their flavor to the liquid, you'll be rewarded with overcooked, bland items floating in an equally bland liquid.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.