It is hard to make tasty vege stocks.
Well, that is what I thought when I gave up the making of stocks from animals. It took me a while to figure it out.
Finally, I realised that making stock is just like making a great herbal tea (which I do really well). It is just a combination of flavours to suit the mood, the day, the recipe. We are so attuned to adding meat when we want a certain, gutsy flavour that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to get gutsy flavour without meat. Well, now my stocks are great again. Different but fabulous. Here are some of my tricks:
- Don’t be precious. Make stocks from what you have on hand.
- When out walking, collect stock ingredients – a stalk from that rosemary bush, some bay leaves, a little lavender, a lemon, some chillies, spurious herbs and the occasional vegetable. I live inner-city and know where to get all of these things on my walks – it is just a matter of looking. On my kitchen bench at the moment I have rosemary, bay, curry leaves, bay leaves, chilli, garlic, ginger, lavender, chilli, lemon and orange. All destined for some stock, tea or recipe.
- Form the basis of stocks from left over vegetable peelings – onion, carrots, pumpkin, leek, celery – whatever you are cooking. Throw in some water from cooking lentils. Add half a lemon (no need to peel or cut it up) and a tomato. Garlic. Ginger. Whatever you have.
- I love Asian style stocks – chilli, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander roots, cardamom leaves, half a lime, ginger, garlic, five star anise. Even a luscious tomato. Sometimes my stocks are so flavoursome, I just add some bokchoy leaves, grated carrot, bean shoots to a bowl of hot stock and call it soup.
- A Really Special Trick. We all know the lovely dals of Indian cuisine, but did you know that lentils are also used as flavourings? Into my stocks sometimes go some red or yellow lentils – channa dal, toor dal,urad dal, bengal gram even – what ever takes my fancy at the time. About half a cup for a good pot of stock. Only use the small lentils that will cook down and at least start to go mushy.
- To “ground” a stock – give it a more earthy flavour – use black cardamom, Chinese dried mushrooms, turnip.
- Play with spices. Use cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, (all those “C”s again!), black mustard seeds, fenugreek leaves, a pinch of turmeric.
- Every stock needs a little sourness – not discernible in the final product, but just to balance the flavours. Lemon or lime is ideal – just throw half of one into the stock. You can use other – tamarind (gives a dark colour), pomegranate seeds, green mango are some alternatives.
- Finally, play, play play until you find the balances of flavours that you like. Then make stock whenever you can. Freeze it and you will always have it on hand for soups, risottos, paellas, polenta dishes, ……
People are saying:
Tiny Choices has a great little post on using vegetable peelings, including indoor composting and vegetable stocks. They say:
Rather than worry about how to compost them (though there are a lot of great options out there), how about turning those vegetable peelings into tasty and useful veggie stock?
Read some more:
Andrea’s Recipes has a good post on a traditional veggie stock.
The Soup Series
- Taking Stock - Making Great Vege Stocks
- Golden Gentle Dal
- Take a Tomato - Quick Tomato Soup
- Tomato Rasam for a SPICE Hit!
- Velouté d’asperges (Cream of Asparagus Soup)