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Homemade Stock

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sedimental Apr 20, 2012 09:48 AM

Does anyone have any neat tricks for making flavorful vegetable stock? I excel at meat stocks but my vegetable stock seems to lack flavor so I tend to buy it. Also, what ratio of vegetables to water do you use? Length of time, method, etc.

I am not vegetarian anymore, but my daughter and many other family members are -and I still eat vegetarian about 2 or 3 days week. I eat mostly soups for daily lunches and I really prefer homemade stocks for them. Do you have a favorite stock recipe that is versatile enough for a variety of soups?

Thanks much!

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  1. meatn3 RE: sedimental Apr 20, 2012 12:28 PM

    I used to have a friend who was on a very restricted diet. Her soups were delicious. Her standard stock was to simply simmer raw, shelled nuts in water. It produced a hearty yet clean flavor. Most of the time she strained the nut meats out. Once in a while she would puree the nuts and liquid if she wanted a thicker soup.

    3 Replies
    1. re: meatn3
      onceadaylily RE: meatn3 Apr 20, 2012 01:48 PM

      This is interesting. Any type of nuts in particular, meatn3?

      1. re: onceadaylily
        meatn3 RE: onceadaylily Apr 20, 2012 03:48 PM

        Her health issues caused her to live like a church mouse, so I suspect her choice was determined by price or what she could gather. Pecans were grown in the area and she gathered them. I also remember her using walnuts.

        Sorry, it's been over 20 years, and at the time I made note of it largely because the idea was so novel to me.

        I did use the techniques a few times when making soup for vegan friends. I simmered the broth until the flavor was pleasing to me - I don't think it took more than an hour at best. I remember making a carrot soup with the broth that was well received, but I have no idea what else I put in it!

      2. re: meatn3
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        sedimental RE: meatn3 Apr 20, 2012 03:21 PM

        Very interesting!

      3. ElsieDee RE: sedimental Apr 20, 2012 12:41 PM

        I just save veggie "scraps" in the freezer, so every batch of stock tastes a bit different, but always add in carrots (unpeeled), celery, and onions (unpeeled, quartered). Other veggies usually include leek trimmings and mushroom stems.

        When I have enough veg accumulated, I roast the trimmings in a bit of olive oil until well caramelized, then deglaze the roasting pan with either wine or water, scraping-up the browned bits, dump it all in a stock pot, add water to cover, and allow it to simmer (very slowly - almost more of a steeping than a simmer) for a few hours. Strain, cool, and freeze. (Er, don't forget, as I did last week, to put a pan / large bowl under the strainer, else you'll be watching your lovely stock go down the drain!)

        I really don't have a ratio for ingredients, but I do try to leave skins / peels on the vegetables, roast until they smell rich, and then proceed.

        1. Chemicalkinetics RE: sedimental Apr 20, 2012 02:11 PM

          Have you tried to use something to give it an umami kick to compensate the lack of meats? Like Asian dried shiitake for example.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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            magiesmom RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 20, 2012 02:20 PM

            I always use dried mushrooms of some sort n vegetable stock, as well as roasting the vegetables, using a couple of whole potatoes and many onion skins.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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              sedimental RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 20, 2012 03:21 PM

              I might have before, but not usually. I will make a concerted effort now though. I will also add more onion skins per magiesmom suggestion too....and a few nuts!

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                goodhealthgourmet RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 21, 2012 10:00 AM

                this definitely helps. dried mushrooms & miso are my two favorite ways to achieve it with veggie stock.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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                  sedimental RE: goodhealthgourmet Apr 21, 2012 10:29 AM

                  Miso!

                  I am making some stock later today and I intend to try out some of these ideas.

                  1. re: sedimental
                    goodhealthgourmet RE: sedimental Apr 21, 2012 12:04 PM

                    let us know how it goes! i tend to use mushrooms *and* miso in combination. i've found that they balance each other so your stock doesn't become too salty or mushroom-y.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
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                      sedimental RE: goodhealthgourmet Apr 21, 2012 07:57 PM

                      Okay, I made some. It turned out better than usual...at least not watery and lacking in flavor. I think I simmered it too long and it got a little bitter. I kinda forgot about it as I was cooking other things.

                      The color was great from the onion skins (I used more than I normally would). I added some dried shiitake, a splash of soy sauce, and roasted the veg really well. When it was finished ,I stirred in a bit of miso. It has good flavor and I will make a vegetable soup out of it tomorrow when my daughter comes to visit.
                      Thanks peeps!

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                  DGresh RE: Chemicalkinetics Apr 23, 2012 06:18 AM

                  I have found that dried shitake mushrooms, seaweed, and Parmesan rinds (if it doesn't have to be vegan) are must-haves for a decent tasting veggie stock.

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                  Spice_zing RE: sedimental Apr 20, 2012 04:42 PM

                  Homemade stock. Here’s my method.

                  Also save veggie scraps in the freezer (broccoli, kale, parsley stems).

                  Add remaining herbs from infused oils (thyme, savory, oregano). Lots of great flavor.

                  Sometimes onion, garlic, carrots, celery, but I often have that in the dish so it’s not mandatory.

                  Add about 3-4 qts. water then pressure cook about 1 hr.

                  Used to do the long, slow simmer for about 4 hrs. but was about to make soup one day before I realized there was no stock in freezer. So I pressure cooked everything with superior results. Been doing it that way ever since.

                  This is my “go to” for soups, rice, beans, lentils, etc., instead of plain water.

                  I don’t add salt bec. I usually add beef or chicken bouillon to the dish. Maybe there’s a veggie bouillon that would give extra flavor?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Spice_zing
                    meatn3 RE: Spice_zing Apr 20, 2012 05:57 PM

                    Better than Bouillon has two which are vegetarian - one is mushroom the other is vegetable. They are harder to find than their meat based ones.They may be vegan, but it has been awhile since I've seen them.

                    1. re: meatn3
                      onceadaylily RE: meatn3 Apr 21, 2012 06:27 PM

                      They also make a vegan no-beef base and no-chicken base. They are listed on the company's website under their vegetarian selections (I have to order the no-beef online, but the no-chicken is easily found at WF). Odd that the first two I just mentioned are the only ones grouped under 'vegetarian', with the mushroom and vegetable being listed with their other bases, but they might just sell better grouped with the others. *shrug*

                      1. re: meatn3
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                        will47 RE: meatn3 Apr 23, 2012 11:05 AM

                        I tried one or two of the vegetarian 'Better than Boullion' bases (I have the 'no-chicken' and 'roasted vegetable' ones), and wasn't really impressed - tasted too much like, well.. boullion cubes.

                        The vegetarian ones, and especially the organic ones have fewer flavor enhancers than the standard ones seem to.

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                      will47 RE: sedimental Apr 23, 2012 11:03 AM

                      I use the roasted vegetable stock recipe from the yellow "Gourmet" cookbook
                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      More expensive than just using scraps, but I get good results. I often reduce it down really far, and freeze into 1" square ice cubes.

                      For certain types of things, I like a bit lighter stock, so I'll do a more basic un-roasted stock with just leek, carrot, shallot, parsley, etc. I think the main thing is getting the balance of sweet and savory ingredients right.

                      For Asian food, I usually make a very light stock base with kelp (soak in cold water for as long as possible, bring the water up to temperature with the kelp in it, but remove it just before it comes to a boil) and soybean sprouts. Sometimes I'll use some scallion whites, carrots, or ginger, and for a s tronger flavor, maybe some dried shitake mushrooms, or shitake soaking liquid.

                      1. IndyGirl RE: sedimental Apr 23, 2012 02:43 PM

                        I usually use the method outlined here:
                        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                        I just stop before the gravy step. (The gravy's amazing though!)

                        1. h
                          herring RE: sedimental Apr 24, 2012 01:58 PM

                          Julie Sahni has a recipe for an Indian-spiced vegetable broth in her "Classic" book. I don't remember the details offhand and couldn't find it online, but I can post later if you're interested. It's the usual assortment of vegetables with cardomom, cloves, cumin, etc. It works really well with some soups (lentil, tomato, etc) but obviously can't be used for everything.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: herring
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                            Rella RE: herring May 5, 2012 11:21 AM

                            I am looking in her book "Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking" and I don't see a vegetable broth listed, which I may be overlooking. I've looked under 'broth' and 'vegetable' and 'stock.'

                            Can you give me a bigger hint or tell me if I have the wrong book?
                            Thanks so much.

                            1. re: Rella
                              onceadaylily RE: Rella May 5, 2012 12:33 PM

                              I think herring is referring to Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking". The vegetable broth is on page 44 of the edition I have.

                              1. re: onceadaylily
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                                Rella RE: onceadaylily May 5, 2012 12:46 PM

                                Ahhhh ... I was looking in the wrong book. I do see it in her "Classic Indian Cooking." Thanks soooo much.

                                1. re: Rella
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                                  herring RE: Rella May 6, 2012 07:59 AM

                                  Yes, thanks onceadaylily -- I was referring to her "Classic Indian Cooking." Let us know, Rella, if you find other soups it works well with!

                                  1. re: herring
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                                    Rella RE: herring May 6, 2012 10:58 AM

                                    I will. Thanks again, herring!

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                            alc RE: sedimental May 6, 2012 03:35 PM

                            With a pressure cooker the garlic/parsley stock in Lorna Sass' vegetarian pc book is quick, easy, doesn't take many ingredients, and is a good base for most soups.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: alc
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                              Rella RE: alc May 6, 2012 06:12 PM

                              I've used it following her instructions in a pressure cooker. It was fine, and I know it is up to a cook to make the stock a little more potent/strong, if they wish to, but next time I make it, I might somehow make it a little stronger. But I do like a presure cooker, too, for making stock.

                            2. eatingherselfalive RE: sedimental May 18, 2012 11:31 PM

                              Like some of the commenters above, I save veggie scraps for stock. Each batch is different, but the constant is plenty of onion. Roasting the scraps tends to yields the best flavor. I either roast the onion or carmelize it before adding any liquid to the pot. For darker "meatier" base, I make sure there's also plenty of mushroom (usually just crimini/portabello).

                              1. Olivia RE: sedimental Jun 3, 2012 06:33 PM

                                I don't have a set recipe per se but have found the following helps boost flavour immensely.
                                -BAY LEAVES. Be generous, use fresh (or frozen) if you can. I use ~3 in my crockpot.
                                -roast the vegetables. I typically use the basic onion, celery, carrot, and maybe some herb odds and ends, but roasting to carmelize the veg helps immensely.
                                -not specific to veg stock, but I use a crock pot to make my stock. About 2 onions, a few ribs of celery, 2 carrots in chunks, plus bay leaves and herb stalks in my 6 quart crockpot for at least 5 hours makes some decent veg stock.

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