Back at the end of May, I made roast duck. Since I dislike wasting leftovers (and since I don’t roast meat often enough to get sick of saving the carcass), I made stock out of the bones the next day – and then a Vietnamese-style soup from the broth. There wasn’t enough duck left over to add meat to the soup, but the flavour from the stock came through clearly enough to make it deliciously full of unami anyway.

The soup turned out well – I ended up bowls of warm, fragrant soup, redolent of star anise, rich duck, lemon, and a subtle hint of cinnamon. Lovely on a cold winter’s night!

Duck stock

Any leftover stock can be frozen to use later – it’s probably worth concentrating it as much as you can, so it takes up less space in your freezer. You can freeze it in icecube trays to get little cubes of stock to add flavour to foods, or just freeze it in a lump.


1 roast duck carcass, along with reserved wingtips & neck bone

2-3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped

1 onion, also roughly chopped

1 carrot, yet again roughly chopped

3 shiitake mushrooms  – I had fresh ones on hand, but dried would be just as good or better. Tear them into chunks.

1 small piece of kombu (Dried kelp. This is optional, but it does add to the umami)

Tops of two spring onions

Piece of cinnamon bark

2 star anise

3-4 good slices of fresh ginger

About a teaspoon of peppercorns (fresh or dried – I happened to have fresh ones)

About 10 ripe cherry tomatoes (because they needed using – but they also add a richness to the stock)

Making duck stock

Pop all the ingredients for your stock into a big pot, cover with cold water, then cook for about an hour and a half


Throw all in pot, cover with cold water (it’s very important that you use cold water – it helps bring all the flavours out of your ingredients), bring slowly to simmer. Cook on a low heat for about an hour & a half to two hours. If necessary, remove all the solid ingredients and reduce the stock to concentrate the flavours, or just season to taste.

Vietnamese-style duck broth

This soup may look complicated, but it’s actually very quick and  straightforward, if you have the stock already made. You can substitute the vegetables and meat for whatever you have in the cupboard, so it’s a good way of using up your excess veg, as well.


Duck stock – about 4 cups per person.

4 shiitake mushrooms

tops of 1-2 spring onions, cut into rounds

A handful of enotake mushrooms, bottom piece removed.

1 carrot, finely sliced

Noodles of your choice – I used sweet potato noodles, but rice noodles or wheat noodles will work too)

Handful of green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

Leftover duck meat, if you have any, or thinly-sliced beef, or tofu (we used vegetarian burdock balls, since they were in the freezer)

1 lemon, sliced into quarters

Fresh mint (optional)

Soy sauce and fresh chilli slices, as dipping sauce


Warm the stock until just boiling. Add the mushrooms, carrot, beans, and leftover meat or substitute to the broth, and cook ’til just tender. Pour boiling water over the noodles, and add to the soup to finish cooking.

Serve with lemon slices and fresh mint, and soy and sliced chilli on the side.

Serves 2

Vietnamese-style duck soup

Duck soup, taken on the couch just before eating. There almost wasn't a finished picture of this - it smelt so good I very nearly just dug in!

I’m still finding the knack for stock. I’m not sure if it’s just that commercial stocks are filled with additives and a half-tonne of salt to make them enticing, but many of the stocks I’ve made previously have seemed a bit insipid – vegetable ones especially. This one worked out well, especially once I’d turned it into soup, but I’m still working on getting the full flavour of my ingredients into the stocks. Any suggestions gladly accepted!