Since beginning the process of becoming kosher, meat has taken a less and less prominent role in my diet. It is so much easier to adhere to Jewish dietary laws while eating a diet that is vegetable and fish based. I also find that my taste for chicken and beef continues to diminish, to the point where I could probably happily subsist without it... Well, almost.
For a long time I have been looking for a packaged gluten-free vegetable stock that could hold its own in my cooking. Instead I found watery, flavorless broths - Often unnecessarily sweetened with cane sugar or corn syrup, or flavored with "yeast extract" (a form of MSG). The convenience of vegetable broth in a can or aseptic container paled next to the taste of these anemic stocks. They were just plain awful. Certainly none of them could hold a candle to chicken stock.
This recipe is my answer to the vegetable stock dilemma. This is a stock so chock full of vegetables and herbs that it rivals a good strong Jewish chicken soup in flavor. This broth is very rich, and has a golden color reminiscent of meat stocks. It is naturally sweet, flavorful and fragrant. You can freeze it in tupperware containers, or freeze it in ice cube trays and then transfer the cubes to a ziploc bag so that you can remove only the number of cubes you need for each recipe.
This stock is, of course, gluten-free and vegetarian. If you omit the optional parmesan rind, it is also vegan and parve. It can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken or vegetable broth. Use it as a base for gravies, for stews, for soups. Sautee with it instead of oil if you're watching your fat intake. Add it to foods you're reheating to keep them moist. Boil noodles in it, or float dumplings on it. It would be perfect with matzo balls or potato kneidlach for Passover - Just skip the nutritional yeast! Best of all, this broth is perfectly delightful all by itself.
VICTORIOUS VEGETABLE STOCK
[ Gluten-Free / Soy-Free / Dairy-Free Option / Pareve or Dairy ]
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
5 stalks of celery
3/4 pound leeks, including green part
4 large carrots
2 large parsnips
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion
2 apples or pears, cored
1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 tablespoon turmeric
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, tightly packed
1/2 large bunch of fresh dill, including stalks
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons salt
2 sprigs fresh oregano and/or sage (optional)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
Parmesan rind (optional)
Use the flat side of a chef's knife to gently crush the garlic cloves. Wash unpeeled vegetables well and cut them roughly into large pieces. Add to a large stock pot along with all other ingredients. Add entire sprigs of the herbs rather than removing the leaves from the stem. Cover with water. Water level should be about 4 inches above the top of the vegetables. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam from the top of the stock, then partially cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. At the end of the cooking time, if you wish to make the stock richer, remove the lid and continue cooking uncovered to slightly reduce it.
When the stock has cooled slightly, strain it through a seive or cloth, pressing all of the remaining liquid out of the vegetables. Compost or discard the remaining vegetables. What you don't eat immediately can be refrigerated for 3-5 days, or frozen. Makes approximately 15 servings.