Q: Please give me a recipe for veggie soup stock.
—Guadalupe Pacetti, Berkeley, Ill.
A: Here's a simple recipe from "French Classics Made Easy" by Richard Grausman. He encourages readers to try other vegetables when making this recipe but recommends avoiding strongly flavored turnips and members of the cabbage family.
"The object in making a light vegetable stock (fonds blanc) is to have subtle, not over-powering, vegetable flavors,'' Grausman writes. That's also why he removes the gills from the mushrooms.
You can make a version of this recipe deeper in color and flavor by sautéing the vegetables first. Cook the carrots and onions in olive oil over medium heat until well-browned, about 10 minutes; add remaining vegetables and saute for 2 or 3 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.
Turn the stock into a quick summer soup perfect for these torrid temps. Chill the stock, serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprig of dill and, if adventurous, a slug of pepper vodka.
Makes: 3 1/2 quarts
1 10-ounce package white mushrooms, washed
3 leeks, washed, coarsely chopped
3 onions, coarsely chopped
4 carrots, thickly sliced
3 celery ribs, with leaves if possible, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 bouquet garni (see note)
6 black peppercorns
4 quarts cold water
Pull off the mushroom stems, set aside. Slice off the mushroom gills, discard. Coarsely chop the caps and stems.
Place the mushroom pieces, leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bouquet garni and peppercorns in a stockpot. Cover with water, bring to a boil over high heat, 15 to 20 minutes. Skim any foam from the surface, reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, occasionally skimming any additional foam.
Strain the stock, allow it to cool uncovered before refrigerating. Freeze the portion not used.
Note: A variety of herbs go into making a bouquet garni. Grausman recommends using 4 to 5 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme tied up in a celery rib cut in half (tied for easy removal when done cooking). Washed cheesecloth can be used in place of the celery rib to hold the herbs.
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