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Improving veggie stock

m
mejohnst Jan 24, 2012 04:34 PM

Alright, it's potato-leek soup for dinner. I have a box of Trader Joe's veggie stock I need to use. I hate this stock because it is violently orange. (Why??) A review of my recipe suggests "dressing up" prepackaged stock by "simmering with carrots, celery, onion, leek, bay leaf, parsley and thyme for 30 minutes." Umm, okay, but carrots, celery, onion, and leek are the main ingredients of the stock, and it smells pretty good, so I'm not sure it needs a further vegetable infusion...

I'm going to simmer some herbs into it, but any other suggestions? Any ideas on how to tone down the hideous color?

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  1. j
    Jzone Jan 24, 2012 04:44 PM

    I always like fennel (bulb, fronds, seeds whatever) in my stocks and carmelized into tater-leek soups sometimes too. when cooked into the stock you don't get the licorice flavor at all, but kind of a brightness to the stock. The opposite is true of carmelizing or roasting it to top the soup with, great anise flavor.

    As for color you could go all the way and throw in tomato sauce or paste but it might bury the subtler flavors of the soup... red food coloring? :) I don't really know... it's almost impossible to take color "out". You can change it, enhance it etc. but removing? eesh.

    Good luck

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jzone
      m
      mejohnst Jan 24, 2012 05:00 PM

      Hmm fennel sounds nice, I'll try that next time. My recipe actually calls for tarragon, but I just tasted the new shoots on my tarragon plant and they don't have a flavor yet. I'll throw in some dried dill instead. I hate January...

      I know I can't "remove" the orange color, but I thought perhaps some additions might tone it down a bit. I think I'm just going to trust the snowy whiteness of the potatoes and cream to even things out.

      1. re: mejohnst
        j
        Jzone Jan 24, 2012 05:42 PM

        I'm with you on hating winter... except for very few things... like dungeoness crab (I'm in Vancouver, so crab season is cool), sea urchin etc.

        Yah, I wouldn't water it down though as some of the flavor is going to get sucked into the taters anyways. Since it's just you go with the red food coloring and take some wicked pictures :)

    2. cowboyardee Jan 24, 2012 04:47 PM

      What exactly are you trying to do - change the color (and if so, what would you prefer), bolster the taste, or both?

      How do you make your potato leek soup (cream based or no) and what end effect would you like?

      It's easy to brown up the color a bit. Or to emulsify a little oil in there which would lighten up the color and cloud the stock almost like you were adding cream to it - though it will still have an orange tinge.

      I'd be tempted to just add some paprika and tell people it's supposed to be that color.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee
        m
        mejohnst Jan 24, 2012 04:57 PM

        Well it is pretty carroty stock, I guess I'm looking for ways to make it milder. In color and in flavor. I'm thinking I may water it down.

        Usually one cooks the leek, adds the potatoes and stock, boils until cooked... I'll use an immersion blender and then stir in the cream.

        My desired end effect is Not Carrot Soup. Whatever, I'm the only one eating it, not like it really matters what it looks like. Just thought that enhancing prepackaged stock was an interesting idea and was wondering if there were ways to change the color characteristic.

        1. re: mejohnst
          cowboyardee Jan 24, 2012 05:07 PM

          Water it down then simmer some veggies that aren't carrots in it. Roasted veggies that are a little browned and things like onion skins can darken the stock if you want, which will further hide the orange color (and in the case of roasted veggies, mask the flavor a bit).

          The problem with enhancing storebought veggie stock is by the time you're done enhancing, you might as well have just made your own stock.

          If you garnish it with something even brighter orange or red, the soup itself will appear less so. Dumb suggestion, but it works.

      2. Karl S Jan 24, 2012 05:27 PM

        Ditch the stock and use water. Potato-leek soup is famously based in virtuous simplicity on water, not stock. Vegetable stocks are often way too harsh and imbalanced, and excess carrot, celery and/or mushroom is typically the culprit.

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