Alright Thanksgiving, you sneaky little minx, you. I’m onto you and your mischievous ways. I get all wrapped up in Halloween and then a week later…BAM! It’s time to start planning Thanksgiving. So, what do vegetarians eat at Thanksgiving? Everything! Well, everything except turkey, that is. If the cook uses vegetable stock instead of chicken or turkey stock, I can pretty much eat everything except the turkey (obviously).
Vegetable stock is a versatile little bombshell that I use practically every day. This is a bit of a hybrid between a court stock, mushroom stock and a vegetable stock. I don’t normally need three different varieties, so this one works for me for almost everything. I change the vegetables and seasonings based on the weather and what’s generally in season, so this one is my “cold weather stock”.
There’s only one week until Thanksgiving, so let’s get rolling with the basics series!
I take some leeks, slice up the whites, peel some carrots and slice those up. Next, I add sweet potato, spanish onion, shallots and bunch of not-so fancy mushrooms and then toss it all into the food processor to turn it into teeny tiny pieces that come together like a paste. I mince them up like that because it yields the greatest amount of surface area on the vegetables which allows for the most flavor to be pulled out of them in the shortest amount of time.
I take those and brown them up in the bottom of the stock pot with a bit of oil, then add a little full-bodied wine, one whole garlic clove and a bay leaf, a touch of salt, pepper and I add some parsley sprigs with the leaves still on as well as a bit of sage and rosemary. Next I add just the smallest, tiniest pinch of roasted cumin and freshly grated nutmeg to warm it up a bit and compliment the mushrooms in the stock for these colder months. Last, I add a whole big pot of water and if I’m feeling in an acidic mood, I add about a tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar. I like the sweet acidity, though, so that’s optional and might just be something that I like. Simmer it and season it to taste and that is it. You’re done and you have about twenty dollars worth of stock on your hands to use however you’d like. Gravy, anyone?
Tip: Grocery store vegetable stocks are pretty much the same as vegetable broth. If you prefer to use store-bought stock as a time saver, check the labels and choose one that has the best listed ingredients and the least amount of salt, so you can control the amount of salt added. If you want to try making your own, I promise that this recipe is very easy,can be altered to your liking, and is highly cost efficient. Buying a one quart box of quality vegetable stock (especially the ones with the pictures of the celebrity chef on the box) can set you back as much as four dollars! This will give you about five of those boxes. This stock freezes very well and can be made in large batches ahead of time, which is a great idea when planning a large meal like Thanksgiving.
Kate’s Cold Weather Vegetable Stock
- whites of 2 leeks, sliced (2 1/2 cups of sliced leeks)
- 1 spanish onion, sliced (1 1/2 cups sliced spanish onion)
- 20 ounces of button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large or 2 small carrot(s), peeled and sliced (3/4 cup of sliced carrots)
- 2 shallots, peeled and sliced (1/2 cup sliced shallots)
- 3/4 cup peeled and sliced sweet potato
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine
- 4 to 5 quarts of water
- 4 sprigs of parsley with the leaves still attached
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/8 teaspoon roasted cumin (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon aged sweet balsamic vinegar (optional)
Note: be sure to wash the leeks very well, as they tend to hold a lot of dirt between the layers. I like to slice them and then drop them into water and let the dirt fall to the bottom. Then I scoop them out with a spider (or slotted spoon) and repeat that process, until no dirt falls to the bottom of the water.
In a food processor, add leeks, onions, mushrooms, carrots, shallots, and the sweet potato. Pulse until very finely and evenly chopped. scrape sides of the food processor and repeat pulse as needed. In a large, heavy bottomed stock pot over medium low heat, add oil and prepared vegetables. Stir occasionally until browned, about 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and wine and stir. Add water. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer and season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Once cooled slightly, pour through a fine mesh strainer.
Note: when adding salt, add small pinches at a time and simmer for a few minutes between each so you don’t over do it.
To freeze: Bring to room temperature, freeze in one quart freezer containers. Can be made and frozen one month in advance without losing much flavor.