If you’ve read my how-to on making vegetable stock, then you’ve probably got some idea how much stock I go through. I really, really like my version of vegetable stock (it’s far soup-erior to the store bought stuff, which usually tastes overwhelmingly of parsley), and I consider it to be the par of any good chicken stock.
But there’s a problem. I use more stock than it’s possible for me to store in liquid format. I use more stock than it’s possible to gather enough vegetable scraps for. It’s a problem, cause I like the convenience of the store bought stuff, but there’s no denying that the other stuff? Way more flavourful.
So I had a think.
For some time now I’ve been pureeing and freezing mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion in equal parts) for soup base starters in small icecube chunks. It’s great because then I don’t have to chop onion and get all stinky. It’s also good because if you’ve got a kid who hates onion, and celery, but only if he sees chunks of it, it sort of blends right into whatever you might be doing with it.
I went to go expand on this idea of pureed mirepoix into a real boullion, and it’s probably no real surprise that there’s a few versions up there given that people’s tastes vary considerably, and it really is just pureed vegetables. But I like going and getting a feel for the patterns and ratios that seem to be popular; it gives me a good idea what to begin with to test.
The one I found most interesting was 101 Cookbook’s adaptation from Pam Corbin’s River Cottage Preserves, and you might find that one interesting as well if you’re a fan of tomato-based soups (her version uses sundried tomatoes). I find that kind of limits the boullion’s usage though, and I also found it far too salty.
Being as I’m a fan of adding herbs and seasonings as I go along, I cut the salt considerably and went for a purely vegetable base, heavier on the garlic and onion flavour which I usually find to be the pizzazz that’s missing from most quick soups. I made less. I also kicked the idea of weighing anything. An excellent, high-quality vegetable stock has its own individual character, should be more or less unique from batch to batch, and one shouldn’t be dithering over how much 200g of anything is.
Do yourself a favour and puree the carrots first. They’re survivalists.
- 1 1/2 cups carrots (3-4 large)
- 3 stalks celery
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 leek
- 3 medium-sized shallots
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 2 cups parsley (roughly - a good fistful)
- 1/2 cup coarse salt
- Peel the garlic and shallots; split and wash the leek well and chop it into smaller pieces; wash and chunk-cut the rest of the vegetables to reduce the load on the food processor.
- Beginning with the carrots and fennel, puree everything together until ground fine. You may have to stop the food processor and mix everything up with a spatula a few times.
- Freeze the majority of the bouillon; it should remain fairly spoonable because of the salt. Store a smaller amount in the fridge to use on demand.
- Add approx. 1/4 tsp per cup of liquid, and increase as desired.