This recipe is not a sexy or beautiful one, at least not by the standards of “food beauty” that we know nowadays. Broth, or stock, is the basis of hundreds of recipes and can be used in many different ways.
Since English is not my first language, my first doubt to resolve was: what is the difference between stock and broth? I’ve read a bit about it and, like most of the times, different sources will give diverse definitions. After giving it some time and researching about it, this is what I believe makes more sense:
“Stock, as a word, implies a kind of building block. Stocks are never served on their own, they are used to build other things. “Stock your pantry,” is an example of that word used in a different way. Same thing. Broth is an older word, and it essentially means something that is boiled. So, to summarize, broth and stock are the same thing. If the focus of the end preparation is mostly the liquid in question, call it broth. If the focus of the end preparation is something significantly more complicated, like a sauce or a more involved soup, then call it stock.”
Stock = vegetables + bones or meat (or both! or none)
This was going to be my first time going on a stock mission, and since I am trying to eat less meat lately, I decided to go for an all-veggie stock. As always I did my research and decided to follow the two articles here below, which not only explained the process step by step, but gave incredibly useful tips:
I also found an article on The Spruce that discusses regular (+meat) stocks and explains what a white and brown broth is. The main difference being that a white broth is made with blanched bones (quickly boiled) which then are drained and rinsed, before being simmered in the water with the other ingredients. A brown broth is made with bones that have been previously roasted; sometimes tomatoes are added too.
Typically, we want our stock to be high in gelatin, which comes from the collagen in the bones simmered. Apparently, it is said that a good broth will solidify when left in the fridge, meaning it is rich in gelatin. Bones high in cartilage, such as knuckle bones (joints) or young animal bones, will usually contain larger amounts of collagen, making them great candidates for a good stock. If you are lucky, like my friend and desk neighbour Kelsey, and your local butcher knows you and likes you enough to give you leftover bones, you could use them make soup/stock at home.
What can you do with the stock?
There are a great number of options:
- Freeze in cubes or in sealed bags (see bottom of page) and use later, or use freshly made.
- Eat it as a warm soup, on its own or with boiled brown rice, thin pasta, leftover veggies…
- Use as base to make risotto, various sauces, pasta, vegetable blended soup, mashed potatoes…
Something negative I realised when making this recipe is that we used fresh vegetables, but once simmered and drained, they looked anything but appealing, so we threw them away (I still carry some guilt…). It is a real pity to throw away food, so I thought about how to solve this. The following are some ideas you could easily cook with the leftover veggies:
- Soup: simmer veggies in olive oil, then blend.
- Roast: place veggies on a baking tray, add spices, herbs and olive oil, cover with a layer of cheese and bake.
A good initiative that my flatmates started at home is that, any leftover vegetable that might go off soon, we place it in a sealed bag that we keep in the freezer. Once that bag is full, we are able to use what’s inside to make homemade stock. This is an efficient way of saving stuff that could go off and we’d throw away, and put it to a good use instead.
I hope you get to makw this recipe at least once in your life. There is something therapeutic about the process: chopping the veggies, simmering them in oil, adding the water, letting it infuse in all the flavours for hours… slow, mindful and flavourful – that’s exactly how I want my life to be actually!
Total time: 2h (prep + cooking)
Notes: quantities are rough, go with your gut, or even better, take your granny’s advise if you can 🙂
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium white onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 leek
- 1/2 fennel
- 2 celery sticks
- 3 small carrots
- 4 big mushrooms
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- 1 bay leave
- 2 fresh rosemary leaves (not the twig, it may add bitterness)
- 10 black peppercorns
- 4 slices of ginger
- 4 clove
- pinch of salt (don’t over-salt the broth, especially if you will use it as a basis for other recipes)
If you want to make a richer, more flavourful stock, you may add a meaty ingredient. However, you will need to let the broth simmer for longer (1-2 additional hours).
- Chicken, ham or pork bones or pieces of meat go well. Check this SeriousEats chicken stock recipe out – super simple!
- Set a big saucepan/pot to medium heat. Once saucepan is hot, add olive oil and let it warm up for 3 minutes while you chop.
- Chop all ingredients into small-medium pieces (2-3cm), crack and open garlic cloves, no need to chop.
- Add onions, garlic, fennel, carrots, leeks and celery. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until soft.
- Add mushrooms, tomatoes and all spices & herbs. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add 2l. of water at room temperature. Set pan to high heat until it starts boiling. You will observe that foamy substances (impurities) start floating to the surface. Remove with a skimmer (“espumadera”) or, if you don’t have one like me: get 2 bowls, fill one with clean water. With a spoon, remove the foam, pour in the empty bowl, then clean the spoon in the bowl with water. Repeat until almost no foam is left.
- Once you’ve brought the mix to boiling point, bring down the heat to medium-low, cover and let it cook for 1h15mins.
- Lift the pan lid and let it cook for another 15 mins.