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Please share your tips and techniques for making great vegetable stock

MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 11:37 AM

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. Monica RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 12:36 PM

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

    5 Replies
    1. re: Monica
      MrsPatmore RE: Monica Jun 4, 2014 12:58 PM

      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
        Monica RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 01:16 PM

        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
          MrsPatmore RE: Monica Jun 4, 2014 01:19 PM

          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
            Monica RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 01:22 PM


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

        2. re: MrsPatmore
          gfr1111 RE: MrsPatmore Jun 5, 2014 09:09 AM

          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. EatFoodGetMoney RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 01:01 PM

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney
          MrsPatmore RE: EatFoodGetMoney Jun 4, 2014 01:20 PM

          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!!

        2. Science Chick RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 05:15 PM

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: Science Chick
            MrsPatmore RE: Science Chick Jun 4, 2014 05:44 PM

            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
              Ttrockwood RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 08:27 PM

              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
                pedalfaster RE: MrsPatmore Jun 5, 2014 10:24 AM

                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. Ttrockwood RE: MrsPatmore Jun 4, 2014 08:47 PM

              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
                AdinaA RE: Ttrockwood Jun 6, 2014 01:06 PM

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

                1. re: AdinaA
                  MrsPatmore RE: AdinaA Jun 6, 2014 02:24 PM

                  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
                    Ttrockwood RE: MrsPatmore Jun 6, 2014 09:30 PM

                    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
                      MrsPatmore RE: Ttrockwood Jun 7, 2014 05:48 AM

                      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
                        Ttrockwood RE: MrsPatmore Jun 7, 2014 01:56 PM

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

                2. re: Ttrockwood
                  AdinaA RE: Ttrockwood Jun 6, 2014 01:06 PM

                  Celery and onions are foundational.

                3. m
                  magiesmom RE: MrsPatmore Jun 5, 2014 05:43 AM

                  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.

                  1. a
                    AdinaA RE: MrsPatmore Jun 6, 2014 01:00 PM

                    Save cooking liquids. Whenever I steam veggies (NOT including cruciferous veggies) or if I cook beans I save (sometimes I reduce then save) the liquid by freezing it. Or if I blanch something like carrots or green beans. When I roast sweet red or yellow peppers, I pour off and freezed the juices. Even just a tablespoon or two - it keeps frozen and it adds up over time. If I am, say, sauteeing onions with red peppers, and I have too much liquid, I may pour some off and freeze it. I am sometimes clever enough to keep the tomato-based ones, and the roasted ones separate, but not always.

                    The point is that after a few weeks or months, (depends how much you cook) you will have this fabulous stock the best vegetable-based stock you ever tasted. And the labor you put in in almost zero.

                    Downside is that you can never replicate the recipe, it will be different each time.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AdinaA
                      MrsPatmore RE: AdinaA Jun 6, 2014 02:28 PM

                      That sounds like a very good idea. I will try it, although my spouse is someone who believes in drinking "pot likker" and any variation thereof, so I rarely have any type of leftover vegetable cooking juices. (I may have to get sneaky here, all in the name of finding the Holy Grail of vegetable stock). Thank you for this suggestion!

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