Take Stock

A few weeks ago, I experienced another one of those life-defining moments. It was a mushroom risotto made with store-bought vegetable broth. As I added more broth, the rice turned a darker shade of burnt sienna and the mushrooms faded into the background. My first bite was a mouthful of perfectly al dente rice ruined by the overwhelming flavors of celery, sweet tomato, and lingering cardboard. A good risotto is all about the broth–and so, I vowed to start making my own.

Standard All-Purpose Vegetable Broth

(alternatively titled: put whatever you want in a pot of simmering water, and let it cook)

  • 4 quarts of water
  • 1 piece of kombu
  • chopped carrot
  • chopped onion
  • chopped celery
  • chopped leeks
  • a knob of butter
  • chopped garlic
  • parsley stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • thyme
  • whole peppercorns

1. Soak the kombu in 4 quarts of water while you chop the vegetables.

2. Melt knob of butter in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot. Add chopped vegetables and sauté until soft and lightly browned. Throw in the chopped garlic and cook for a minute.

3. Remove kombu from the water and set aside for later use. Add the water to the stockpot along with the parsley, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the kombu and reduce heat to low. The soup should be just barely at a simmer. Allow to cook for 1 hour and strain.

With only two people in the house, I don’t have any immediate need for 4 quarts of vegetable broth. After I let the broth cool, I separate it into two cup portions and put it in the freezer for future use. This stock is light, versatile, and will make your kitchen smell wonderful.

Kombu Dashi

Simple all-purpose kelp stock

  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 4 cups of water

1. Pour water over the kombu and cover.

2. Soak the kombu at room temperature for anywhere between 30 minutes and 12 hours. Obviously, the longer it soaks, the more flavorful the broth.

3. Remove the kombu, and you’re done. The stock can be refrigerated for up to five days. This is a great base for miso soup.

Hoji Shiitaké Dashi

Shiitaké Mushroom Stock

  • 5 large dried shiitaké mushrooms
  • 4 cups of water

1. Soak the dried shiitakés in water and cover the container.

2. Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes.

3. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms and use them for cooking or refrigerate for later use. They’ll last for about two days. This stock is stronger than the kombu dashi and perfect for flavoring vegetarian meals.


2 responses to “Take Stock

  1. Not really up your alley, but we’ve been doing bone stocks for awhile, and the difference is quite amazing. We do ours in the crockpot and leave them for 1-3 days depending on what kind. Will have to try a veggie stock sometime though. Much quicker!

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