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Please share your tips and techniques for making great vegetable stock

I tried to do a search to see if this topic's been covered before, but came up empty. So my question for the V&V Board is: How do you make flavorful vegetable stock, and do you have any special tips or techniques?

Last week, I had an asparagus soup at the vegan restaurant "Loving Hut" in Naples, FL. This was not much to look at (the broth actually reminded me of dishwater) but the flavor was out-of-this-world. It was so great, in fact, that my carnivorous (and initially reluctant) dining companion asked if we could return for lunch the following day.

I've made a lot of veg stocks in my life, but this one really rocked it. It tasted like summer in a bowl. I would eat that broth every day, if that was an option.

So, dear friends, please share any ideas/tips/techniques/recipes/thoughts that you have regarding vegetable stock. And thanks for sharing!

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  1. a bit of msg?
    maybe they used roasted vegetables for extra flavor? parsnip, leek..

    5 Replies
    1. re: Monica

      I also thought MSG but the restaurant claims that it does not use any . . . I'm thinking maybe a bit of light miso, nutritional yeast or ??? something that I don't know about.

      The menu has a lot of Thai-Vietnamese style dishes. Here's a link to the menu: http://lovinghut.us/naples_01/menu.html

      The asparagus soup was a special (not regular menu item) but we also tried the Pho and that broth was also extraordinary. Ditto for the Thai hot + sour soup. Actually, everything that we had there was really epic.

      1. re: MrsPatmore

        Vietnamese fish sauce always adds some umami flavor to broth. mirin and miso also add a lot of flavor and so does kombu. but then some mirin and miso have msg in it already.

        1. re: Monica

          Ah, you may have hit the nail on the head. It is likely a riff on dashi using kombu! It is a vegan restaurant, so they would not be using fish sauce but maybe vegetarian fish sauce? I have seen bottles for sale in Asian markets, along with vegetarian oyster sauce.

           
          1. re: MrsPatmore

            http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-vegan...

            looks like a good vegan fish sauce recipe.
            uses kombu, mushroom sauce and miso as base.

        2. re: MrsPatmore

          Mrs. Patmore,

          This menu looks delicious. The next time I am in Naples, I will try it. (And this comes from a guy who generally has little good to say about vegetarianism.) Thanks.

      2. If you want to make really good stock get a Kuhn Rikon un-vented pressure cooker.

        2 Replies
        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

          Oh boy . . . if I did that, I'd also be in the market for a new spouse. I already have 3 PCs. One electric, two Fagor. Although I do covet a Kuhn Rikon!!

          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

            The Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook has a great vegetable stock recipe. I don't have it with me, but it's essentially putting a ton of vegetables and some water in a pressure cooker for about 35 minutes. I remember leeks being important, along with carrots, celery, onion, and a bit of tomato.

          2. leeks, leeks, leeks......I save all the greens in the freezer and dump them into my stockpot!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Science Chick

              This may sound stupid but . . . what do leeks bring to the party that is not already supplied by the various types of onions, scallions, shallots? I've always been confused by leeks. They are not common where I live, and always super-expensive. I'm not opposed to using them (or any other vegetable). I'm genuinely interested in knowing how the flavor profile of leeks sets them apart from others in the allium family?

              1. re: MrsPatmore

                In a stock i will use what i have on hand, and wouldn't buy leeks just for stock... Unless its for a special potato leek soup or something.

                1. re: MrsPatmore

                  Hard to explain leeks. It's kind of like trying to explain orgasm to a virgin.

                  Shallots, for instance. That's another one that may be hard to describe, taste-wise. Why not just use a small onion? But shallot lovers know that ~only~ a shallot will do.

                  There are some ~great~ leek-centric recipes out there. You deserve to try some! :)

              2. Ok, its a little labor intensive yet really worth it....
                Chop into chunks onion, celery, carrots, and whatever random veg you have. Then saute and brown with a bit of olive oil, then add all your water, a big pinch of peppercorns, two bay leaves, and your kombu. Simmer until its reduced by half. Meantime roast in the oven more chunks of carrot, button mushrooms, maybe a clove of garlic.

                Fish the veg out of the stock and feed the carrots to the dog:)
                Then add the roasted veg and mushrooms to that broth and gently simmer.

                You will end up with a double strength very flavorful veg stock. I wait and add salt (or miso) after its been reduced. The final stock you can either keep in the carrots mushrooms etc for your soup or blend them into the stock although the shrooms will make it dark if you do that.

                For an asparagus soup i would do roasted asparagus as the veg that is roasted and i would use the woody ends in the first veg that goes in the broth.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  Tedious though it is, Troockwood is absolutely right. Proper browning is absolutely essential ot great veggitarian stock.

                  1. re: AdinaA

                    When you roast half of the veg for stock, would you say 400F for around 30-40 minutes? (That's what I typically do if, for example, I'm roasting cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, eggplant, etc., to serve as a side dish)

                    And how long are we talking about for the simmer? (For comparison, I usually simmer bone broth 24 hrs, but fish stock only 1-2 hours)

                    I have a 20 qt stockpot and my plan is to make a full pot of veggie stock and then freeze in 16 oz containers.

                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                      I roast lower and longer, 350 for about an hour, but check and toss around at 30-40min.

                      I fill my le crueset stock pot full of water and simmer to reduce to a little less than half the original volume, maybe 1 1/2 hrs? Too long and the celery can turn bitter. Veg stocks are much faster since you are not dealing with gelatin or bone marrow. The roasting step does most of the work for you!

                      Try a smaller test batch to tweak proportions before doing a huge batch though....

                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        Thanks for all the tips and answers . . . off to load up on veggies at the farm market. They usually have bags of "seconds" at a deep discount, so that's what I'm planning to use for this experiment.

                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                          That sounds perfect-Please update us on how it turns out!

                  2. re: Ttrockwood

                    Celery and onions are foundational.

                  3. I roast whatever vegetables I want to use but definitely including potato peels and onion skins then simmer with Kombu and some soy sauce.
                    I add miso when I am using the stock.