Monday, February 2, 2009

Vegetable Stock - Cleaning Out The Veg Bin

Cleaning out the veg bin is not something I love to do. The guilt of throwing away veggies that seemed like such a good idea at the store, but were never put to use is a hard task to bear. It's been made a lot more manageable by the compost bin in my backyard where most past-their-prime veggies make their way. But, if the veggies are still usable, just not at their best for a certain recipe, I've started using them for stock.

In the past I've used my homemade chicken stock whenever I make soup, even if it's vegetable-based. However, two things have happened recently to make me change my mind. First, my friend David recommended throwing a roasted duck carcass in with my next batch of chicken stock for a really rich, deep flavor. He was absolutely right about that, but the stock is now too rich and prominent a flavor for most vegetable soups. Second, I was recently preparing a dish to take to a get together of girlfriends. One of the attendees is a vegetarian and not being able to turn to my trusty stock was a problem. I decided it was time for me to start keeping my own vegetable stock on hand.

I read through the CIA's recipe for vegetable stock and this is loosely based on that process. I improvised with what I had in the veg bin and you should to. Just stay away from any starchy vegetables (potatoes) and anything with a very pronounced flavor (fennel) should be used in very small quantities. Also try to keep in mind what you'll be using the stock for and adjust flavors accordingly.

Vegetable Stock
Makes about 3 1/2 quarts

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
2 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds mixed veg cut into 1 - 2 inch chunks
(celery, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, leeks, etc.)
4 quarts water
Salt to taste
Sachet d'epices (instructions follow)

Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic and shallots. Fry until fragrant, but not yet brown. Add remaining vegetables and sweat for 3 - 4 minutes until warmed through. Pour water over and bring to a simmer. Add a few pinches of salt and the sachet d'epices. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Strain the stock and use in your favorite soup. I also freeze one quart containers for future use.

Sachet d'Epices

3 - 4 parsley stems
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 t cracked peppercorns

Wrap the items together in cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine. You may include one garlic clove if desired, but I left it out as there is already garlic in the stock.


Erica said...

sounds good to me. I've never tried making my own stock. Next time we're on veggie overload, I plan to try your recipe! Have a good Monday

Hopie said...

Homemade stock is the best and a great way to use those veggies that are no longer at their peak. You can also use scraps, like veggies peels as long as you washed the vegetable before peeling it...

Sara said...

I use odds and ends of vegetables for stock too - if I don't have enough, I store them in the freezer and add to them over time until there's enough for a big batch.

Cathy said...

Good stocks are worth their weight in gold. I use the freezer trick too and add little bits of leftovers until I have a bag full.

Excellent post.

Laura said...

Looks lovely! Rick Tramonto also has a great veggie stock his book Tru I think? It was amazingly rich...I think because he has you sauteeing tomato paste with the veggies prior to adding water.

Diana said...

I'm so impressed! I've never thought of making my own veggie stock before, but I bet the flavor is amazing!

pigpigscorner said...

Nice flavours, I can drink the whole pot just like that!

Cherie said...

I may not make a lot of other stuff, but I always make my own stock. Maybe that's because I'd choose soup over dessert anytime.
This one sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

you make such simple things look incredible.

Anonymous said...

you make such simple things look incredible.

Dewi said...

Nothing beat homemade vegetable stock, finding the time to make it, now that can be a challenge.

Anonymous said...

great pics! i've been meaning to clean out my veggie drawer for a week or two - thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Great idea! I' hate throwing things away as well and I've made veggie stocks in the past using parts like carrot leaves, celery leaves, the tough green part of leeks and other odds and ends that you normally wouldn't eat.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful blog! Thanks for leaving a comment on mine so I had the chance to discover yours! And thanks for the birthday wishes!!

Selba said...

Hardly to make vegetables stock these days, but this is a good reminder and recipe :)

Cakebrain said...

I love your pics! veggies are particularly photogenic in my opinion! they look like they'd make a gorgeous stock!

Esi said...

I make homemade vegetable stock all the time and I love it! It's a great way to use up all the vegetables I get at the farmers market that I can't use up. I am actually going to make some this weekend!

Susan said...

I make this kind of soup I love- I love it.This is right up my alley. So fresh and filled with all things good!