I make chicken stock regularly. This ritual has been a staple in my life for years and though I have wished for the idea of vegetarian stock, a vegetarian stock that is my soul mate, I have yet to discover one that satisfies me. I have tried many: organic store bought, concoctions involving brewer’s yeast, but I’m sorry to say that they have, for the most part, come out tasting strongly of a strange, particular ingredient or else… dish water. Usually, when a recipe calls for vegetable stock I substitute homemade chicken stock.
I love The Splendid Table on NPR. I feel happy in the radio presence of Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host. She is wise, yet so fresh with food. She is also constantly affirming of all the guests on her show, taking a sincere interest in their culinary discoveries and implying that she is eager to learn from them, too. Even Amy Sedaris.
I am on a trajectory this week to make a greens soup that was described by a guest on The Splendid Table, Anna Thomas, who wrote a book called Eating Well. I am going to save her greens soup recipe for a few days because I first need to make a deeply flavored vegetable stock. I turned to the experience of Lynne Rossetto Kasper on this. She has a recipe for a Hearty Vegetable Broth. Her words, “There is nothing weak-kneed about this vegetable broth. It’s big flavors hold their own in any dish…”
If you are used to tossing a bunch of raw ingredients in a pot, covering them with water, and walking away to let them simmer when you make stock, you may find this is a little more complicated. To bring up the sugars in all of the vegetables, you cook them down until they are brown and beginning to stick to the pan. You then deglaze the pan with white wine and let that cook off. Finally, you add the cooked vegetables to some fresh ones, cover it all with water, and simmer it for a couple of hours. This process, along with a large portion of sautéed mushrooms, gives the stock depth that I think rivals a beef stock.
Hearty Vegetable Broth
Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table, NPR
2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, coursely chopped
2 large stalks celery with leaves, coursely chopped
4 medium onions, coursely chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, coursely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dry basil or marjoram
2/3 cup dry white wine
6 large romaine lettuce leaves, coursely chopped
1 large ripe fresh tomato, chopped, or 2 canned plum tomatoes, crushed
A pinch freshly grated nutmeg
About 4 to 5 quarts of water
1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch saute pan or skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spatula, until the onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and basil and cook a few seconds more.
|Vegetables caramelizing and beginning to stick to the pan|
2. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any brown glaze in the pan, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to an 8-quart stock pot. Add the romaine, tomatoes, nutmeg, and enough water to cover the solids by 3 to 4 inches. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover, and simmer slowly for about 90 minutes.
|Deglazing the pan with white wine|
3. Strain the broth into a large bowl, pressing down on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Cool and chill. Skim off any solidified oil from broth's surface. Refrigerate or freeze in 1 quart portions or in ice-cube trays.
I felt like I was making an Asian soup with the lettuce and the mushrooms. The broth has a complex, yet natural flavor and this is only the stock. On to the greens soup.