Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Totally Non-professional vegetable stock

Someone emailed and asked how I make my veggie stock. This would probably make true cooks cringe, but it works for me! And I'm not getting any complaints. The only thing "official" is the time you simmer. That I got from that Culinary Boot Camp Cookbook.

Veggie stock is really simple. I usually save things like broccoli stems, asparagus stems, onion ends and onion peels, carrot ends, and potato peelings in a bag in the freezer. But you can also make it from fresh. If you're using scraps, just dump a couple of hand fulls (depends on how much you're making...) of everything in. If you're using fresh, cut an onion in half (leaving the peeling), cut a couple of carrots into thirds or so, and maybe a stalk of celery, and you can get away with just that, but it's much more flavorful if you've been saving up or have a bunch of fresh scraps (like cut up your potatoes and other veggies that you intend to use in your soup).
Anyway, cover them with as much water as you need to make as much stock as you want. Add salt...this you kind of have to determine by how much you're making, but not to worry, you can add it later (and if your soup is going to have lentils or beans, you may want to add it later anyway). Use cold water, bring it to a boil, turn it down to simmer, then set your timer for 30 minutes. Strain the vegetables out (I generally use a colander, but if you want to make it really clear, you need to line the colander with cheesecloth). Adjust your seasonings and that's about it. Some people add a bouquet garni with the veggies and sometimes I put peppercorns in a tea ball and throw that in too.
A really good trick, if you have one, is to use one of those stock pots that has the pasta insert...you know, kind of like a colander? I put the vegetables in that and then I just lift them out at the end.

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