Friday, May 09, 2008

kitchen essentials — basic vegetable broth

one of the essential items in any good kitchen is stock [broth], be it from an animal source — like chicken, beef or fish — or from vegetables. a vegeterian stock is easier and faster to make than one like chicken and can almost always be used in any recipe you are making, especially if you follow kashrut.

the following recipe will take about one hour to cook and leave you with a very good tasting vegetarian stock which can be used right away or divided up and frozen in either half cup or one cup portions (some people like to freeze their stock in ice cube trays). freezing your broth is a good idea as you always have some on hand.

an advantage to making your own vegetable broth is that you can decide what flavours you like and control the level of salt and seasonings. in addition, this particular one which i found years ago in some book someone lent me (name of it now long forgotten!), and uses up common vegetables we often have, many of which are laying around in the vegetable bins of our refrigerators.

you can use whichever vegetables you want but be wary of those which are said to leave bitter aftertastes or distinct strong flavours. this also goes for various herbs like parsley (leaves vs stems controversy). people have differing opinions about this topic. go with what you think tastes good and those which you like. different countries have different parameters for which flavours are "good" — in the end, it's a matter of personal tastes. an interesting thing about this recipe is the use of caraway seeds. believe it or not, it makes for a great enhancement and does not leave any distinct caraway (i.e. strong) taste.

an important thing about making this stock provide maximum flavour is the way you prepare your vegetables. this was not part of the original recipe but something i incorporate into most stocks i make which are vegetable based. since most of the flavours are sealed within the vegetables themselves, just throwing them in the soup pot whole or even large chunks does little to extract their essences. cutting root vegetables (the main ingredients in this recipe) lengthwise to expose the most of their inner surface allows for maximum amount of extraction; cross cutting onions and garlic almost to the root ends does the same thing and allows them to be fished out later in their whole state. as a final note, this recipe adds the cleaned skins of the onions to give the stock its golden colour. remove the outer loose skins and wash them well and them wash the skins which cling to the onions before cutting them as mentioned above (keep them attached!).

all purpose easy vegetable stock

makes ~ 8 cups (2 L)



2 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 good and ripe tomato (leave whole)
2 large parsnips (essential!)
2 medium/largish onions
1/2 head garlic cloves (keep attached)


2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp sugar
20 black peppercorns
1/2 - 1 tsp caraway seeds
2 bay leaves

parsley (italian flatleaf type)
small amount of dill, if wanted


wash all your vegetables well and prepare them.

from the carrots, celery and parsnips, remove the root tops. you can peel the carrots and parsnips if they need it or you prefer them that way (if you want to keep them for another purpose later, them peel them).

cut the celery into large chunks and set aside.

cut the parsnips and carrots lengthwise. make sure to do this! then cut them into large chunks and set aside.

take the loose skins (if any) off the onions and wash them and set aside. then take the onion with remaining skin still attached and cut it with a cross cut ALMOST to the ROOT end to keep it whole. set aside.

keeping it whole (attached), clean off the garlic. with a small paring knife make slits in all the garlic buds through the skins, and set aside.

if you are using other vegetables, decide what's best on how to prepare them.

measure out your seasonings and herbs and set aside.

in a large pot, place the vegetables and the seasonings EXCEPT the fresh herbs.

add 8 cups of water only and bring to a boil.

cook the stock on medium low covered for the first 30 minutes.

add the fresh herbs and cook for another 30 minutes.

remove the stock from the stovetop and let it cool down until it's warm.

strain the stock through a FINE sieve and either reserve or discard the carrots, celery or parsnips. the onion and garlic will be for the garbage.

at this point, taste the stock and adjust the seasonings (i.e. more salt/sugar).

use as necessary or freeze the rest.



Casey said...

I am SO thrilled to find this website. The step-by-step fotos are absolutely fabulous--like a personal cooking class. I found this blog while googling to see if the recipe for Flo Braker's cornemal crust galettes was on-line--and found not only the recipe but your wonderful fotos. I'll be linking to that post on Monday when I write up my version of the tomato galette (My fotos, awaiting blogging:
Was happy to see your praise of Flo--she is a long-time friend and her pastries are always exquisite. She has a new book coming out in the Fall which I know will be fabulous.
Anyway, I'm so excited to read the archives here. God, how I love Google.

sari said...

boy, you do know how to do things!!! i agree with you that adding parsnips is essential. they give a great taste to any broth, be it vegetarian or meat based. but few people listen to me when i tell them :( . adding caraway seeds is something new for me but i'll put them in the pot next time, i like them a lot but had only used them in rye breads.

burekaboy — said...

casey - hi there. thanks for the visit and nice comment/compliments.

wow, you know flo braker personally -- i love her (stuff). i've not been disappointed yet and will look for her new book.

the galette crust is terribly easy and good. it works well with sweet fillings and savoury ones. hope you enjoy it!

google rocks! LOL.

sari - i could eat parsnips all day! they really do add a lot to making a soup -- obviously those people don't know what they're talking about! LOL. as for the caraway seeds, i was skeptical at first and after i tried it, i was very pleased with the results. you may want to put them in some cheesecloth if you're not discarding or straining things.

Lorrie said...

Hey BB! I miss ya! Sorry I haven't been on much but look at all the delicious things I get to catch up on. WOW, you have been keeping busy. I wish I felt like cooking, I think I will just look at your pictures and drool for a while. I don't know which to try first. I'm thinking the veggie broth and lavosh? Take care. Oh by the way, I went to a cool little co-op in NH and had a veggie samosa and guess what...the ones I made from your recipe were MUCH better. THANKS AGAIN! xoxox

burekaboy — said...

hey lorrie - wow, that's so strange! i was thinking about you yesterday saying i wonder what's happening with that girl! LOL. hope the studies are going well and everything is fine with the family :)

lemme know how the cooking goes. samosas, mmmmmm..... i was just thinking of those last week in a fit of hunger but thought of how much work it is and said, no way! not today! try the broth, it's a good one. you can freeze it to keep on hand.

i'll email u. :)