The Simply Inspired Kitchen: Vegetable Stock

A lot of times I hear people say, “I followed the package/recipe/directions and my food still seems to taste bland. What can I do besides adding salt to give my food good flavor?” When I prepare savory dishes (the workhorses of my repertoire) and the preparation or recipe calls for water, I immediately substitute for vegetable stock.

Stock is a preparation of taking various ingredients like vegetables, meats or fish and simmering with spices and herbs to make a very flavorful liquid.  I use it for everything – from soaking my beans, cooking pasta and rice, to steaming vegetables. stockbasics I like vegetable stock for its versatility. I clean out my produce drawers once a week, and anything that isn’t fresh enough to use in a salad or cooked dish goes for stock. Celery or carrots look a little limp? Tomato a bit too soft for a salad? No problem! The beauty of veggie stock is that produce that is not perfect gets utilized and you cut down on what you throw away.

 

Let me give you my basic stock recipe. This makes quite a lot, so you will want to tailor the amount to your personal needs. It’s very mild in flavor, so when you use it in a recipe, you can add your preferred seasonings at that time. You will note there is no salt, pepper, herbs or spices in this recipe – it is intentional to keep the flavors as clean as possible.

1 bunch of celery, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

3 large green zucchinis, peeled and chopped

2 large white onions, large dice

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 tomato, cored and sliced

handful of garlic cloves, smashed and roughly minced

1/4 of a 750ml bottle of dry white wine

Small amount of olive oil

1) Heat stock pot well, and add oil, garlic, celery and onions. Cook until garlic is fragrant and onions are getting soft, about 5-7 mins on high. step1stockmaking

 

 

 

 

 

2)Lower flame to medium and add carrots and parsnips. Put a lid on the pot and leave sweat for about 15 mins, til you start to see the carrots soften a little and there is some liquid in the bottom of the pot.

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3) Add your zucchini and wine, stir well to combine,and recover, leaving for about 10 mins or until squash softens a little.

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4) Add your tomato and COLD water to fill the pot to about 2 inches from the top. Raise flame til water is at a strong simmer, not quite a boil, then lower, stir and leave cook on a low flame for 2 hours at the most, stirring once or twice. step4stockmaking

 

 

 

 

 

5) Take a clean pot and put a colander over top. Strain the stock through the colander, and leave sit for 30 mins. Even after you pour the vegetables into the colander, all the liquid doesn’t come out right away. If you want, you can take a potato masher and gently press down on the cooked vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible.

6) Remove colander and dispose cooked veg. Clean out original pot you used, and cover top with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer (I use a fine mesh strainer). Carefully pour liquid to catch tiny pieces. Your result should be a vegetable stock that is clear, mild-smelling and a light gold in color.

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7) Cool completely and refrigerate or freeze. Lasts for months in the freezer, a week at most in the fridge.