Sunday, February 6, 2011

Basic Vegetable Stock

Seasonally, in Nova Scotia, this is a mid-August kind of ingredients list. In spring you can substitute the onions for green onions, use winter carrots and don't worry if the potatoes are tired, they still have lots of good in them.

8 cups water
1-3 onions, peeled and quartered (some people like to gently fry these before using in the recipe, it can sweeten the onions. If you don't like a strong onion flavour, use less of them. If you don't know, cook up all the onions, add them to the broth until you like the flavour. Fry the remainder until crisp and freeze. They make a nice topping for a soup, or baked potato etc.)
1 large carrot, cleaned
2 cups potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 head garlic, unpeeled (or pickled garlic 4 cloves)
3 ribs celery with tops (or 2 ribs loveage - a herb)
4 sprigs parsley
2 tsp salt
1-2 bay leaves (depends on size)
sprigs of oregano, basil, rosemary, sage (not all of them.... go with which flavour you like best)

In stock pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer 2 hours. Allow stock to cool, then strain the veggies out, especially the bay leaf and put the broth into another container. Do not make the mistake of straining the liquid into the sink and saving the veggies. This is the reverse of your goals. It is a horrible shock to the system to watch your soup disappear down the drain....... yes, I've done it twice.

Use or freeze.

- the strained veggies are rather out of oomph. You can puree them and add them back to the stock for a thicker broth (not the bay leaf). You can use the pureed veggies to add to a potato croquet, or add into a meatloaf or meatballs as a recipe extender. Or give it up and toss them into the compost where they continue the circle of life.

ps. the butter or oil from cooking the onions, if you did that, might add a bit of a glisten to the broth. Just ignore it, it will disperse when the stock is used in other recipes.

Use: you have 7-10 days to use if stored in an airtight jar or container in the fridge.

Freeze: in freezer style zip lock baggies, ladle in two cups worth of broth, seal the baggie, lay it flat on a cookie sheet, make as many baggies as you can. (if you are really unsure about this, place the baggie in a large bowl, ladle in the broth and let the bowl support the baggie while you stagger around) Lay all the baggies flat on the cookie sheet, with a towel with nap between the layers. Put cookie sheet in freezer. Watch out, they become lethal sharp edged Frisbees when thefreezer door opens and they slide out and attempt to bean you in the forehead. The towel might save you. Once they are frozen, take off the cookie sheet and store in a safer manner. If a frozen baggie slips out of control and lands on the floor, the baggie might be burst or spring a hole. Put back in the freezer and when it comes time to defrost, use a large bowl to set it into so the liquid is caught from the hole. Good for 3-4 months. Labeling is a good idea if you don't like surprises.

If you have broth leftover, as in not enough to make 2 cup baggies with, the broth can be frozen in a ice cube tray and then transferred to a baggie. This never happens in my life. I forget and a veggie ice cube in a margarita is awful. Instead, I put the little bit of remainder in a smaller, tight lidded jar and use as a liquid for mixing up in salad dressing, meatloaf, flavouring rice or couscous, anywhere where a bit of liquid is asked for and veggie broth is an appropriate flavour.

NOTES: This makes a good group recipe. Just double or triple or whatever the ingredients. Use a bigger pot of course. The recipe can be used alone as a soup; very good when you have the flu or it an be used as a base for other soups. The red onions might add colour to the soup!

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