We are lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family that come to our home to share holidays such as Thanksgiving. Some of them happen to be vegetarian. When people find out we have vegetarians coming for the holiday their reaction is usually, “Wow, that’s tough.” No, it isn’t. It isn’t tough at all, especially if you have one secret ingredient in your holiday menu arsenal – homemade vegetable stock. Make a rich vegetable stock now, freeze it in convenient portions, and you are set for the holiday whether you’re serving vegetarians, carnivores or both.
Stock is a holiday menu essential ingredient. It shows up in all sorts of dishes on a Thanksgiving table, from stuffing (aka dressing) to soup to glazed veggies. Although grocery stores have tons of canned (or boxed) vegetable stocks, I haven’t found one that I like. What I want is a deep, balanced broth to round out the flavors of whatever I’m making. What I’ve found in most store-bought vegetable stocks is a liquid that’s all salt, or onions, or carrots. Not good.
Homemade vegetable stocks are quick and easy to make, but often kind of thin-tasting. My solution for getting rich stock is to roast the vegetables before simmering them, and then to throw in some dried mushrooms to bring out a nice deep flavor. NOTE: If you don’t have a large enough stock pot, or don’t want to make such a large batch, don’t worry. The recipe can easily be halved.
- 4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 3 inch sections
- 2 medium onions, quartered (leave the skins on)
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 red peppers, cored and cut into eighths
- One potato, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
- 2 leeks, slit, rinsed and cut into 3 inch sections
- 5 large portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into thick slices
- Good olive oil
- 1/3 ounce dried mushrooms (I like porcini)
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 2 small or 1 large bay leaf
- 1 cup red wine, mixed with 1 cup water
- scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 – 12 cups of water
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees, F.
- Put the mushrooms in one roasting pan, slick them and the pan with olive oil.
- Put the carrots, onions, garlic, peppers and potato in another large roasting pan and slick them and the pan with olive oil as well.
- Put both pans in the oven and start them roasting.
- After 10 minutes, add the leeks to the pan with the mushrooms. Stir the vegetables in both pans. Tip: If your oven isn’t large enough to roast both pans at once, you can easily roast one set of veggies in a pan, and then the other.
- Stir the vegetables every ten minutes or so. Cook until they’re very nicely browned, about a total of 30-45 minutes.
- Pour one cup of the water/wine mixture into each pan and scrape the bottom of the pans to deglaze them.
- Put the vegetables and any remaining liquid from the pans in a large stock pot.
- Add the herbs, salt, dried mushrooms, and 10 – 12 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Lower the heat, partially cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Let the stock cool, then strain and refrigerate or freeze.
Yield: About 12 cups.