vegetable stock (from scraps)

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i keep zipper-lock bags (gallon-size) in my freezer full of various vegetable bits and pieces: all the peels and skins, tops, cores that are normally discarded, seeds, nubby ends of root vegetables, squash innards, tough mushroom stems, green part of leeks, stems of herbs...

when i have at least 1 bulging, full bag, i make vegetable broth.

yields: about 1 quart (4 cups)
vegetable scraps, pre-chopped to extract the most flavor if possible
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp dried)
2 bunches of parsley stems
1-2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorn
1/2 cup dry white wine [if using roasted vegetables or mushrooms for meatiness]
special equipment
heavy-bottomed, 4-quart pot
cotton cloth for squeezing out more juice from pulp
large container, preferably with pouring spout, for straining
1. fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with vegetable scraps and add 1-2 cups of water just to keep veggies from burning. simmer on low just until frozen vegetables relax enough for you to press down on them and compact them. now, fill water just until vegetables are barely submerged. bring to a boil. add about 1 tsp of salt to help vegetables release their moisture and juice into broth and to flavor.
2. turn heat down and add herbs. simmer just until vegetable bits turn muddy brown, about 20-30 minutes.
3. add peppercorn and wine; simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. remove vegetable bits and place in colander set in the straining container, first, to avoid splashing hot liquid. carefully pour the rest of the pot through the colander.
5. to extract even more liquid, collect cooled, vegetable pulp (about 1 cup at a time) and place onto a large piece of cotton cloth. bring the corners of the cloth together to form a pouch and now twist/squeeze out the remaining juice.
6. store in those glass jars that you've been saving just for this purpose. or possibly freeze in ice cube trays and store cubes in ziplock bags in freezer.
think mirepoix and building a base for other flavors to be layered onto. traditional mirepoix combination is 2 parts onion, 1 part each celery and carrots. in Italy it's soffritto and the Spanish counterpart is sofrito. a big proportion of your vegetable mixture should be onions, carrot and celery.

try to have a good mix of different vegetables, some starchy (potatoes), other aromatics (garlic, scallions, leeks, fennel) and various others (parsnips, squash, asparagus, greens like chard and beet greens).

mushroom stems add rich depth to the soup, a meatiness. tomatoes also add some meatiness.

corn cob and husk! read somewhere that a restaurant makes corn husk broth that tastes sweet and corn flavor rich...mmmm...

water that you used to soak and cook your beans in is also another good flavor enhancer.

vegetables to be used sparingly (possibly add near the end so they don't go bitter):
cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, artichokes, eggplants, bell peppers

as a rule of thumb: 1 pint of liquid to a pound of solid ingredients. (splendid soups by James Peterson, p. 69)

if you have large chunks of vegetables (tops of squash, stems of mushrooms, cores of fennel and cauliflower) roast in oven for a richer, caramelized flavor and then toss in soup. if you roast your own bell peppers, which is very easy to do, save the charred skin, too, as this also adds a rich roasted flavor to your broth.

toast the seeds from squashes to get a subtle toasty, nutty flavor.

for a stronger flavor, as it is vegetable scraps, reduce the broth until you get your desired flavor.

good notes from
Cooking Method   SimmerMain Ingredient   Vegetables
Prep Time   less than 15 minutesCooking Time   15 to 30 minutes
Features   Dairy-Free, Low-Calorie, Low-Fat, Low-Sodium, Vegan, Vegetarian

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