Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Vegetable Stock Victory: Broth That Can't Be Beat



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.


[ 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
20 peppercorns
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.


Unknown said...

This sounds terrific! One of the things I do too, to add flavor and well-roundedness to veggie stock is sautee the cut or torn veggies in a little butter prior, until they get that real nice green, and start to smell rich - then pour on the water and boil. Adding that little bit of grease, and getting the veggies to sweat gives the broth a nice little extra sumpthin. Also, garlic, ginger and dill are my killer flavor boosters.

Sea said...

This is almost eerie- two nights ago I made veggie stock from scratch for the risotto I was making, and I NEVER do that. Must have been something in the air... Perhaps this gray foggy weather inspiring lovely broths and stews...

ML said...

I love making homemade stocks. It's necessary due to my husband's high blood pressure and my small intolerances. I like that I have control of what goes into the stock. Also, it makes everything taste so incredible!

~M said...

Where do you find nutritional yeast? I looked by the active yeast at Whole Foods, but couldn't find any.

ByTheBay said...

M: Whole Foods has it. It's not used for baking so it is more likely to be with nutritional supplements or spices and flavorings. They should also have it in their bulk bin area. Ask a staff person - They will know where to find it. I have yet to see a brand that's not GF, by the way... Red Star definitely is GF, and that's the most common brand.

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Anonymous said...

RIZE brand yeast is also gluten/wheat free. Though it isn't "nutritional yeast." (It is with the baking products in most natural foods stores, including Whole Foods.)

ByTheBay said...

Anonymous: You cannot use regular baking yeast in place of nutritional yeast, unfortunately. It would taste awful and not give the desired effect. Nutritional yeast is INACTIVE yeast, and tastes entirely different and has a different texture and color. Rize yeast and other baking yeasts should only be used in baking. I like Rize yeast but unfortunately it is more expensive than Red Star and Fleischmann's, which are also both gluten-free.

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Anonymous said...

Which of the vegetarian boxed stocks have you found to be the least bad? :) I want to send some with my college-bound student!

ByTheBay said...

Anon: I'm not crazy about any of them by themselves, but I use boxed broths in cooking all the time. I tend to use Imagine's Vegetable Cooking Stock (as opposed to their broth). It's thicker and more flavorful and is a good base for soups:

I've also heard good things about Imagine's No-Chicken Broth: