Brrrr, its hard to believe I was living in my swimmers on the beach only a week or so ago – the cold snap has finally landed in Sydney. We have had a pretty lazy day today, after farewelling my brother and his wife (!) this morning on their long drive back to Brisbane, and then visiting the local farmers markets, watching movies and listening to the rain.
In preparation for the cooler months which are now upon us, here is a vegetable stock recipe, which can be used in all your favourite winter comfort foods – soups, curries, casseroles, risottos etc. The recipe is very easy, and you will notice that it really makes a difference to have homemade stock added to your favourite meals instead of the hydrogenated salty stock cubes.
I have used only base essential vegetables in the stock, but you can add other vegetables and herbs, such as mushrooms for a deeper flavour, parmesan rind, leeks, fennel, parsley and other herb stalks, etc – but stay away from broccoli, cabbage, spinach as they will make the stock bitter, or root vegetables, such as pumpkin or beetroot, as they may make the stock cloudy. If you are using the stock for an Asian style dish, you may also wish to add ginger, coriander, chilli, lemongrass, star anise, etc, as you see fit. I often save bits and pieces of vegetables and herbs (such as basil & coriander stems, tops of leeks, parmesan rinds etc) in a ziplock bag in the freezer and then throw it all in, as is, when I make the stock.
Bring on the trackie pants.
By the way, if you are short on time and need a “quick fix” vegetable stock, please don’t use the stock cubes! Try these simple, quick stock suggestions from my favourite plant lover, Mark Bittman.
- 2-3 brown onions (including skins)
- Half a head of celery (including leaves)
- 3 carrots (unpeeled)
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4L cold water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- A teaspoon of peppercorns, smashed
- 4-5 bay leaves
- A few sprigs of rosemary or thyme
- Olive oil, for cooking
- Roughly chop the onions, celery, carrots and garlic – leave on the skins but make sure you wash off any dirt. Put the vegetables into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and brown over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, and then add the water. Bring to the boil, and then turn the stock down to a simmer.
- Add the bay leaves, pepper, rosemary and/or thyme. Let the stock simmer for an hour until the flavours develop – make sure that it does not boil, as this will destroy the flavour.
- Remove the stock from the stove and strain it. You can use it immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.