Vegetable stocks are very simple to make, because they use easy-to-get vegetables and don’t require long cooking.  Nothing could be more straightforward to make than one of these brews:  You literally just add water and let the veggies simmer for an hour or so.  Plus, these stocks are a safe bet if you have any worries about your guests’ allergies or vegetarian tendencies.

Most recipes calling for stock have either a savory or sweet profile.  For savory soups, like good Garden Gazpacho (in Sustainably Delicious, page 74 and coming to chefnischan.com in the summer) you need a savory vegetable stock, like this one.  For a sweeter dish, like the Nantucket Scallop Porridge with Apples and Chestnuts (in blog) you want a sweeter stock made with root vegetables.  For either of these stocks–or any other vegetable stock for that matter–roasting the vegetables first will yield a richer, more flavorful broth.  If you do this, cut the simmering time for the stock in half.

How do you know whether you want savory or sweet?  The ingredients are great clues.  If a recipe calls for a hard squash, pumpkin, or any type of fruit, sweet is the way to go.  If the dish is tangy, lemony, or focused on earthy flavors–think mushrooms or hot peppers, or a vegetarian noodle dish–savory is key.

 

Makes about 4 quarts

Ingredients

1 Fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered

3 Large leeks, trimmed and coarsely chopped

3 Large onions, peeled and quartered

1 Rutabaga, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 Pound mushroom stems or whole mushrooms

 

Steps

  1. Combine the vegetables in a large stockpot.  Add enough water to cover by an inch.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Immediately reduce the heat.
  3. Simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the stock is nicely flavored.
  4. Strain the stock.  Let it cool to room temperature.
  5. When cool, transfer to lidded containers and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Save and refrigerate any vegetables that do not feel grossly overcooked. These veggies are a great add to any hash recipe.

 

Photo Courtesy of Andre Baranowski.  Baranowski is a NY based food photographer and was the principal photographer for Michel Nischan’s cookbook – Sustainably Delicious.