The secret to a good soup is a good stock, said my mother. Flavors are long simmered to mingle in a stock, but each ingredient that you add to that stock to make it a soup should be discernible.

I freeze chicken, duck, shrimp, fish, and vegetable stocks in ice cube trays, then remove the cubes and put them in labeled freezer bags so that I can take a little bit out at a time. Even if I am dining alone, I can pull out a cube or two of stock, reduce it in a frying pan, whisk in some butter, and sauce the meat or fish I am cooking. Homemade stocks take little preparation and cook on their own, virtually unwatched. A vegetable stock is included so that vegetarians interested in cooking Lowcountry may try some of the recipes such as fennel or sorrel soup.