The Ultimate Soup Stock

Growing up, my idea of vegetable stock constituted leftover salty liquid from canned green beans or corn. I had no idea vegetable stock could be constructed or be remotely considered as a meat-based substitute in recipes. I’m grateful for the ability to see things in a new way! After trying this recipe, let me know if you agree.

I’ll provide advanced warning that I’m a huge advocate of multi-purposing and efficiency. That being said, I’ll tell you what I used but attempt to provide practical alternatives. There is room for significant variation in the ingredients depending on your palate and available inputs.

In a large Dutch oven or pot, drizzle your favorite oil of choice with a neutral flavor on the bottom (e.g. olive, grapeseed). Add handfuls of chopped garlic, fennel, green onions (white and/or green parts), mushrooms, and fennel greens. My choices reflect what I had left at the end of the week in my refrigerator. The local produce store had fresh Shiitake mushrooms on sale for only $1.99/lb., so I removed the stems and kept them for this soup stock while I dried the tops in the dehydrator for long-term use. For the base of this soup, you can use any combination of garlic, mushroom, and onion flavors you choose. It helps to give these base ingredients a little time in hot oil on their own to bring out the best flavor.

Once the base ingredients are lightly sautéed, add two cups of dry white wine. In my case, I used homemade rhubarb wine, but you can add Chardonnay or white cooking wine. Let that simmer a few minutes, and allow it to reduce until there is a small layer of liquid barely covering the base ingredients. Then add all or any of the following according to your tastes: a cup of diced potato or sweet potato, chopped celery and/or celery leaves, carrots, parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, bay leaves, peppercorns, and a little cayenne pepper.

Except for the carrots, marjoram, bay leaves, peppercorns, and cayenne, I had all of these spices/herbs on hand from my garden. It really doesn’t matter whether you add dry or fresh ingredients, but obviously it takes less of a dry dense ingredient than a bulky fresh ingredient. For me, this was a great way to use large handfuls of fresh parsley from an October harvest that were almost to the point of losing freshness.

How much of each ingredient should you add? That depends. If you’re using fresh parsley, add at least 1/2 cup. In my case, I added over a cup each of flat and curly parsley because it needed to be used. If you’re using fresh thyme or sage, add at least six sprigs of each. I added a tablespoon of homegrown dried thyme and 1/2 cup of homegrown dried sage sprigs. I threw in four dried bay leaves and a tablespoon of dried marjoram. I couldn’t get the lid off of my peppercorn grinder, so I added about a teaspoon of ground pepper and about half a teaspoon of ground cayenne.

If you are a salt person, add salt. If you prefer to avoid it, the stock doesn’t need it. Nine times out of ten, any recipe calling for vegetable stock probably calls for salt, so you can add it then.

To get the best flavor, add water to a safe level without overflowing (in my case about five quarts) and simmer this mixture for at least one hour. After straining, store it in the refrigerator or freezer or ladle it hot into canning jars and process for twenty minutes at ten pounds in a pressure canner. My yield was four full quarts and a large mug that I consumed immediately.

©Room2GrowGarden.com, January 6, 2019

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