Monday, January 21, 2008

Homemade Vegetable Stock

I love soups, always have. Back in the pre-veg days I used to make my own stock from that-which-must-not-be-named. After quitting meat I resorted to shop-bought vegetable instant stock. The results were never as satisfying as the stock I was used to. One day a fellow veg*n told me he was making his own stock. An idea started to form in my head.

Back home, I chopped up some veggies, threw in savory things like bay leaves, allspice, and dried mushrooms, and let it simmer. When I tasted it after 30 minutes I was disappointed. The stock tasted like - well, like plain water. I left it on the stove for another 30 minutes, and - oh miracle - there was the faintest hint of taste in the broth. After three hours I could hardly contain my joy: I had a rich, smooth, aromatic stock that I drank on the spot - it tasted like the best consomme.

So, the trick is to cut the veggies in as tiny morsels as you can manage and leave it on the stove simmering for a few hours. You do not want it to be boiling because then the liquid will evaporate. Once I left the veggies cool in the pot overnight before straining the stock and it turned out even richer.

If you do not want to waste veggies for just stock you can simply save the bits and pieces left over from peeling veggies, this is what I often do.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

1 carrot
1/2 leek
1/2 celeriac (or celery stalks)
1 onion
some allspice, pepper, parsley, bay leaves
sea salt to taste

variations: other root vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms ginger, sherry, soy sauce...

Chop the veggies finely and simmer with the other ingredients for at least two hours. Do not let it boil too much or else the liquid will evaporate. Strain and add salt to taste. Enjoy in soups, stews or straight as consomme.

You can adapt this any way you like. Adding more carrots makes it sweeter, using the outer leaves of Brussels sprouts makes it very rich and slightly bitter, adding more onions gives it a great flavor, more mushrooms make it earthier and richer, garlic gives it an amazing zing... In summer I like to throw in some tomatoes as well. You can't go wrong, just experiment to create your ideal broth.

Fat-free depends on the use of fat-free ingredients.
Gluten-free depends on the use of gluten-free ingredients.


Vegan_Noodle said...

I really should do this. I often get caught in the middle of recipes without prepared veggie stock (I don't like buying the already made liquid kind and it takes a lot of time to dissolve those cubes). Maybe one lazy Saturday I'll get around to it.

Anke said...

I didn't make my own veggie stock for a long time cause I dreaded the amount of chopping involved. Now I've taken to just chopping some veggies on Saturday mornings and getting the broth started. It does not need any monitoring while it is cooking, so it's basically only the time needed to chop up the veggies. With a food processor this should take no time at all...

Pssst, a secret: I don't always use homemade broth. Just for special occasions. And often we have it just plain as consomme, my hubby loooooves it :-)

Don't you have instant stock in powdered form in the US? When all I have is cubes I just crumble them and add them directly to whatever I'm cooking, fast and easy.