Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 11 - Vegetable Stock

I think it's time to talk about one of the most underrated stars of vegan cuisine. Vegetable broth. Let's face it, it's basically free if you use all the veggie parts you would otherwise discard.

If you have access to a farmer's market, you'll probably be carting home vegetables with even more extras. Carrots with the green tops, celery with lots of leaves, broccoli and cauliflower with leaves and stalks, leeks with big roots and huge fanning tops, greens with tough stalks, mushroom stems, corn husks, and cobs, and that doesn't even cover the peelings and skins of root vegetables, squash, onions, garlic and potatoes.

Just wash the undesirable trimmings, leaves, stems, and put in a big pot, cover with water bring to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour. I usually add bay leaves, peppercorns, and a good size hunk of kombu (japanese seaweed.) The kombu adds a salty dimension that makes it taste good plain without adding extra salt. Most likely you'll add salt to whatever final product you're making with the broth, so you don't want to salt it here. Just drain and when the veggie parts cool, you can squeeze the remaining broth out of them.

If you're trying to shed a few pounds, a cup of broth before a meal is a good way to fill up on zero calories and help feel satisfied if you have smaller portions of the main meal.
Also vegetable broth is a key component in the popular cleansing juice diets. Even if you're not into the whole diet part of it, sometimes it's good to give your digestion a rest for even part of the day. It's also nice on a rainy day or when nursing a cold/flu or hangover.

Todays mixture includes the carrot greens, tops, and peelings; broccoli and cauliflour stems and leaves; some leftover chopped red onion; some basil leaves that fell out of the bunch; leaves from the celery (word of caution, too much celery can be overpowering, 1-2 stalks is usually good;) stems from some collard greens; the papery skins from some garlic, 3 bayleaves, 3 peppercorns and a 3 inch piece of kombu. Brothy goodness.

*My camera "works" now but it seems to be having trouble with lighting.


Ginger said...

that's a good idea. you make it seem very simple so now i'll most likely make some. i don't know why i thought it would be difficult to tell you the truth.

could i use any kind of sea veggie? i have some nori in my pantry i use for miso soup.

Jenn said...

Homemade veggie stock is so easy, you'll wonder why you don't do it all the time. If you're just hanging around the house anyway while it cooks, it doesn't take much prep time. I seem to make it every week after the farmers market. You can also save scraps during the week in a plastic bag and put then in the freezer until you have time to make broth.
I have not used nori in it, but I'm sure it would be a fine addition. I don't think it's as salty on it's own as the kombu. Kombu is also used to make dashi (the base for miso soup) and if you use it in the cooking water for dried beans, it is supposed to reduce the gassy effect. You can find it cheap in asian markets, it's definitely pricier at Whole Foods and might be hard to find at a "normal" grocery store. I honestly haven't looked.

Ginger said...

wow! good info, thanks jenn. i very rarely shop at whole foods because of the cost. i'm fortunate enough to live in a city that's just granola enough to have a chain of health food stores that sells all of that stuff fairly inexpensive so i know exactly where to get it.

i'm making some today to use in my seitan and stew. i'll link back to your recipe, thanks!

Jeni Treehugger said...

I make broth up in batches and freeze a load in handy sized tupperware.
Great blog!

Penny said...

I love broth. Especially this time of year. I need to try this recipe!