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We went plant based almost five years ago. I had been a scratch cook for many years, but I was still a little overwhelmed at the idea of relearning a whole new style of cooking. One of the biggest hacks that helped in the transition was learning to make good stock, I use it almost daily whether in soups, cooking grains or in sauces and gravies. I find that I make stock almost weekly fall through spring, so I make large quantities and freeze part of most batches for easy availability. I will provide recipes and instructions for several different variations. It is delicious, easy to make and so convenient to have on hand!

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Equipment

I have invested in a nice stock making set up because this process is really integral to our plant based lifestyle. If you are new to stock making you most likely won’t have pans the size of mine and please, do not let that stop you! There are many alternatives. You might cut the recipe in half for instance. You could use two smaller pans to roast the veggies, or a disposable aluminum roasting pan (can be reused many times with care). Enamel canning kettles are relatively inexpensive and will do the job. I would encourage you to just get started with what you have or can borrow!

Roasting pan, mine is 12X18

Stock pot, mine is 11 quarts

parchment paper (opt.) if you’re at all concerned about pan surface (I don’t trust non-stick or aluminum)

Knife

Colander or perforated insert for stock pot

Blender

Ladle and slotted spoon

Large mixing bowl (convenient, but not necessary)

Ingredients

Full disclosure…there are numerous other veggies you can add, especially members of the onion family, leeks or shallots for instance. Potato peels can be nice, parsnips etc. Make sure the core ingredients are dominant, don’t get too carried away, but have fun experimenting a once you get the hang of the process.

2 medium/large onions

6 ribs of celery

6 carrots

1/2-1 cup mushrooms (I use the stems and save the caps for other things)

1 bulb of garlic

(These are the core ingredients I use and you can vary the amounts to your liking, There are no set rules, the soup police will not come knocking!)

1 Tbs of olive oil

Herbs - a sprig or two of thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary, and/or parsley, if you have fresh on hand. They are listed in order of importance. I’ve forgotten to add them and it still tastes good. You can also use dried, 1 t thyme, 1 t marjoram, 1/2 t sage, individually or just throw in 1 Tbs of poultry seasoning.

Fresh ginger root, 1/2 inch piece (optional)

1 t peppercorns (optional)

3-4 leaves dried bay leaves (full disclosure… I rarely remember to use them and it is still good)

Salt to taste (again optional, but it’s pretty awful without any)

6 cups of water for variation one, 8 cups of water for variation two.

Step 2: Roasting the Veggies

Full disclosure…you could skip this step and it would still be better than the stuff you get at the store, but seriously, this is where the magic happens! Roasting the veggies intensifies the flavor and brings up the natural sweetness. It’s 45 minutes that don’t involve you, just enough time to stream an episode of your favorite show. Just do it!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the onions,celery and carrots into chunks. The more surface is exposed to heat the more magic happens. They don’t have to be teensy weensy, 1/2 to 1 inch chunks are perfect.

Chop the mushrooms up, again it is fine to just use the stems and save the caps for other uses.

Cut the pointy end of the garlic bulb off, leaving the cloves mostly intact.

Now put all the chopped veggies in the bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to roasting pan, distribute evenly and place garlic bulb in the center, drizzle a little oil on the garlic. Alternately, you can just put all the veggies in the roasting pan and spray it with oil if you have an oil sprayer.

Roast for 45 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.

Step 3: Making the Stock

Variation One:

Traditional clear stock

Makes 6 quarts

If you have a stock pot insert, put the roasted veggies in that. Otherwise, you can just put them in the pot and strain the stock after simmering. You can smash them up a bit with a potato masher to expose more surface to the water, but you don’t have to. Separate the cloves of garlic and peel or squeeze them out, mince. (Discard the skins.) Grate or mince the ginger root, if using. If you’re using fresh herbs, tie them in a bundle for easy retrieval later. Add the garlic, herbs, bay leaves and peppercorns (if using) to the pot. Add 6 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low and simmer covered for another 45 minutes. Strain the stock. Press down on the veggies to get all the goodness out. Discard the veggie pulp. (Our dog loves it.) Salt to taste. That’s it, you made stock!

Variation Two:

Hearty Whole Foods Stock

Makes 8 quarts

So…after some time, I began to question why one would throw away all the fiber and nutrients in the veggies and I decided to try incorporating it into the stock. We love it and I never make the clear stuff anymore!

Separate the cloves of garlic and peel or squeeze them out. Discard the skins. Chop them up. Grate or mince the ginger root, if using. Add the ginger and garlic to the roasted vegetables. Spoon 1/2 of the roasted veggies into a blender, add 2 cups of water and blend on high until liquified. Repeat with the rest of the veggies. Pour out into stock pot and add 6 additional quarts of water. You can use the insert or put the bay leaves and peppercorns into a small muslin bag or make a bundle with cheesecloth. If you’re using fresh herbs, tie them in a bundle for easy retrieval later. Add herbs to the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Remove the herbs and salt to taste.

Variation Three:

Veggie Stock with Tomato

Makes 6 or 8 quarts

Good for minestrone or any veggie soup containing tomatoes. Make either traditional or hearty stock, add up to a quart of tomato juice to taste. That was easy! One consideration with adding tomato to stock is that it can slow the cooking down, making it a longer process for some foods to become soft and cooked through. If most of your add ins are precooked or if you’re going to use a slow cook process like a crock pot you will be fine, otherwise leave any tomatoes out of the stock and add it after your soup has cooked.

Variation Four:

Cruciferous stock

Makes 6/8 quarts

Use this for the base of cream of broccoli or any soup featuring brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, collards, etc.) The ingredients are slightly different.

Ingredients:

4 cups of broccoli, cauliflower, kale or collard stems, any combination

1 medium/large onion

4 ribs of celery

2 carrots

1/2 c mushrooms (I use the stems and save the caps for other things)

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 Tbs of olive oil

Herbs - a sprig or two of thyme, marjoram, and a leaf or two of sage if you have fresh on hand. You can also use dried, 1 t thyme, 1 t marjoram, 1/4 t sage, individually or just throw in 2 t of poultry seasoning.

1 t mustard seed (optional)

1 t peppercorns (optional)

3-4 leaves dried bay leaves

Salt to taste (again optional, but it’s pretty awful without any)

Follow instructions for roasting.

Use Variation one for a clear stock soup.

Use Variation two for a cream based soup.

Step 4: Recipes: Using Your Stock

Minestrone

Every fall when the weather finally gets a little bite to it, we smile and say…Minestrone time! Our middle son started this tradition when he was a teen and we’ve continued it ever since. I feel a little silly writing up a “recipe” because I think of minestrone as a great way to use up a little of this or that you may have hanging around, We have a big garden so there’s always tons of produce screaming to be used in October.

I could simplify the process down to this: Saute a couple cups of chopped onions, some garlic and celery. Add about a cup each of whatever veggies you have on hand, Pour in some stock and cook until tender. Add some cooked beans and a can of tomatoes, When everything is soft, throw in a cup of pasta and cook for another 15 minutes. Try to each just one bowl!

Makes about 4 quarts

Ingredients

2 cups chopped onions (any mild onion is fine, I’ve even used green onions)

5-6 cloves of garlic, more or less

2 ribs of celery (or you can use the leafy inner part, all good)

The remaining ingredients are infinitely tweakable, use what you like or what you have on hand, measurements do not have to be exact.

1 c cubed zucchini

1 c cubed carrots

1 c cubed potatoes ( I leave the skins on)

1 c broccoli and/or cauliflower florets

1/2 c chopped bell peppers (make mine red)

1/2 c eggplant

1/2 c sliced mushrooms

1/2 to 1 c chopped greens (collards, kale or spinach)

1 c garbanzo beans

1 c kidney beans

1 c navy beans

1 c lima beans

1 c green beans (not in MY house, yuck!)

1 c peas

1 to 2 c canned tomatoes

1 c shell pasta

olive oil for sautéing

2 t italian seasoning

2 quarts stock

water

Saute the onions, garlic and celery in a little olive oil over medium low heat until soft and starting to brown. I find it easier to use my stock pot from the get go, only one pan to wash!

Cut all your vegetables into 1/2” cubes, just chop the greens small enough they won’t be sloppy to get on the spoon. Add in your cut up veggies, 2 quarts of stock and 1 quart of water. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add all the beans, peas and seasoning. Bring to a boil.

When the soup is boiling, add the pasta. Cook 10-15 minutes longer.

We like it thick and hearty. If you want in soupier, add a little more stock or water.

Serve with vegan parmesan.

Vegan parmesan

1/2 part almonds

1/2 part nutritional yeast.

Process in blender until almonds are ground.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

The ultimate comfort food! The bean/tofu element provides a healthy creaminess and protein, while the cashews lend a delicious richness. Even more decadent with a little vegan cheddar grated over it!

Makes about 31/2 quarts

Ingredients

4 c cubed potato

4 c broccoli florets cut bite size (You can also use cauliflower or a combination)

2 c chopped mild onions ( leeks or shallots are also quite nice)

2 c cooked white (navy)beans or a container of extra firm tofu ( tofu is slightly more neutral tasting, but the beans are pretty mild if you’re avoiding soy)

1/2 c raw cashews

2 quarts cruciferous stock

Saute the onions in the stock pot until soft.

Add the potatoes, broccoli and 1 qt. of the stock. Simmer until potatoes are soft.

In a separate pan, heat 1 qt. stock, to a simmer. Remove from heat, add cashews, cover and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Add beans or tofu and process in blender until smooth. Stir the bean/cashew mixture into the soup.

Butternut Bisque

So rich and satisfying! Try this with chanterelles, oh my! caramelizing the onions and roasting the garlic puts this bisque over the top.

Makes about 3 1/2 quarts

Ingredients

2 c chopped onions

1 whole garlic bulb

1 c mushrooms, sliced

4 c potatoes cubed

4 c baked butternut or other winter squash, seeds removed

2 c chopped greens (kale, collards or spinach)

1/2 c raw cashews

2 quarts stock

Caramelize the onions in a heavy bottomed pan on low, 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. ( If you have a good stock pot use that)

Meanwhile, roast the garlic in a 350 oven for 45 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and greens to the onions and stir frequently until mushrooms are nicely browned and the greens are wilted, about 15 minutes.

If you need to transfer the veggies to the stock pot, do that now.

Add 1 qt of stock to the veggies, bring to a simmer.

Add in potatoes and simmer until tender.

Heat one cup of stock in a small sauce pan, add cashews, remove from heat and let soak 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the garlic and let cool. Squeeze the cloves out into the squash.

Puree the squash/garlic with remaining stock until smooth. Do in two batches if you need to. Wash the blender.

Puree the stock and cashew mixture, pour into a bowl or a squeeze bottle if you have one, drizzle over soup when serving.

<p>This looks delicious :) </p>
<p>Thank you! I hope you make some and enjoy it!</p>

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