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Where do you use vegetable stock?

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In the eGullet Culinary Institute course on stocks Fat Guy and Carolyn Tillie show us how to make classic chicken and beef stocks, but no mention is made of the existence of vegetable stock. There is a topic on how to make it, but not much discussion on how to use it. Some people seem to just use it to handle vegetarian requests, but use chicken or veal stock if they possibly can. But I happen to like a well-made vegetable stock. I know it's not a straight-up replacement for a meat stock, though: are there places where a vegetable stock really shines?

Chris Hennes
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A corn chowder for one. (Because corn stock is vegetable stock essentially.)

Mushroom risotto (with, you guessed it, mushroom stock made from stems and mushroom scraps; dried also works well)

As for taste, it could be just a matter of training one's palate.

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The secret to my mothers potato salad is in the vegetable stock.

She boils peeled potatoes. Strains them when they are still quite firm. Then cuts them while still warm.

Add homemade, warm, seasoned vegetable stock (the potatoes will soak that up in the cooling process) let rest for at least two hours (that's what she says - you might want to cut that short)

In her version she then makes a mayo with egg yolk, mustard, apple vinegar and sunflower oil then adds tarragon and chives and mixes very carefully. Done. That stuff is wonderful.

Potatoes make a good vehicle to soak up stock flavors. You might want to invent other compositions playing on this idea.

About me: Jonas Frei - Artisan Cuisinier / PolyScience, ETI, Kisag, SLB distributor for Switzerland. 

I started: www.cuuks.com and the Sous Vide °Celsius App

Twitter: @ArtCuisinier

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The secret to my mothers potato salad is in the vegetable stock.

How doe she make her vegetable stock?

onion, one or two cloves stuck into

garlic (not much)



celery and/or celery stalks

fennel (not much)

black peppercorn



bay leaves (quite a few)

+ sometimes other stuff that needs to be used up

sautée root vegetables, add rest, add water, bring to a simmer, 30min, done

If you use a pressure cooker you get more flavor out of it (she doesnt do that, though)

About me: Jonas Frei - Artisan Cuisinier / PolyScience, ETI, Kisag, SLB distributor for Switzerland. 

I started: www.cuuks.com and the Sous Vide °Celsius App

Twitter: @ArtCuisinier

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I often find that a vegetable stock is a better option for risottos, especially when you want to highlight lighter spring vegetables.

Agreed. I like to make mixed vegetable risottos, especially in springtime, and vegetable stock adds a pleasing light flavor. (I usually make mine with at leeks, along with other vegetable trimmings.)

I also use it to make summertime minestrone, with more vegetables and fewer dry beans. For the dry beans, I tend to use dry mung and azuki beans in summer, just for a lighter feeling.

I also have a great vegetarian pho recipe that starts with vegetable stock. What I do to make it a bit better is grill/char the vegetables then roast them before making the stock. It really adds depth to the final soup.

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I keep some of the original Greens Cookbook summer vegetable stock on hand at all times, for a variety of soups & bean dishes where a strong meat stock would blunt the fresh sweet vegetable flavors: Tomato basil soup, curried lentils, my vegetarian posole; and a corn stock can give the same richness of mouthfeel as a meat stock, but again does well with sweet and light spring/summer vegetable soups, like this vegetable soup with corn and freekah, or even in this late summer/fall pepper and corn soup. My basic approach to corn stock is given in the corn/freekah soup recipe: I make it on the spot with vegetable & corn to be used in the soup, rather than canning in advance.

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I have read that vegetable stock should be used within a couple of days of being made, and if it's frozen, it loses flavor pretty quickly. Anyone with experience want to weight in on that?

edited to add:

Many people will freeze leftover chunks of fresh onion, carrot, and celery to use in making meat stock. I am wondering whether freezing alters the flavor of the vegetables any, and in meat stocks it's not evident because of the flavor added by the meat. Can the same practice yield vegetable stock that's as flavorful as it would be if the vegetables are fresh?

Also, does anyone use the leftover vegetables for anything else --besides compost, perhaps? I'm wondering if they could be pureed in a blender and with additions of herbs, etc., made into soup.

I do know that carrots strained out of beef or chicken stock are among the best dog treats on the planet.

Edited by jgm (log)
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I can't answer jgm's post, other than to note that carrots strained out of stock sound like a darned good human treat to me, if there doesn't happen to be a dog around. Just saying.

But to the main point, I have an excellent, very simple recipe for leek and potato soup that calls for vegetable stock. Makes sense -- chicken stock or broth would overpower the delicate leek flavor, and turn it into something else.

There might be times when you want those stronger flavors, perhaps even a light homemade beef broth, which I try to keep in my freeze, a la Marcella.

I think the answer, Chris, is to use vegetable stocks as a flavor component where and when you think they would enhance the dish. And of course, vegetable stocks are relatively quick to make, and there are so many different possible flavor profiles -- more emphasis on onion, or carrot, or tomato, or whatever -- that you can pretty much design them to fit your needs. It might take time to develop enough familiarity with the recipe you're pairing the stock with, and to develop just the stock flavor you're looking for, but heck, it's not like we're gonna all be doing something besides cooking, is it?

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So other than a strong vegetable stock like the on with roasted vegetables or one with strong herbs (all mentioned above) it seems with the lighter ones it is best to adapt to the recipe at hand and make concurrently?

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I do end up simply composting the veggies used for my stocks, and that makes me sad, but I find it indispensable in my pantry, and pressure can it to keep a good supply along with a rich chicken or turkey stock, at all times. A good rich vegetable stock should not simply be an afterthought, only tossed together from random veggie trimmings in your freezer.

A one-shot stock for this or that dish can certainly work--like corn stock for my freekeh soup--but I often ended up with a lopsided stock without a broad enough flavor base to really build on. I can't recommend the section on vegetable stocks in the Greens Cookbook highly enough, for the discussion of what different vegetables add to a stock, and the collection of basic stock recipes therein.

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