While we're on the subject of gravies (in case you missed it, this is my personal attempt to blog A MONTH OF VEGAN GRAVIES for the "Vegan Month of Food" project) I'll share my favorite vegetable stock recipe.
I admit I use a packaged or boxed or powdered bullion or broth just as often for convenience, but when I have homemade stock in the freezer, it's definitely my preference. The vegetables vary according to whatever vegetables (and scraps!!) I might have around, but this is the basic outline I work from. Use whatever you have, but try and have some onions, mushrooms and root veggies, don't worry if it's not quite 2 cups of this or 1 cup of that.
Once cooked and cooled, this freezes well, and I often freeze in 2-cup containers so it's convenient for gravy-making.
BASIC VEGETABLE STOCK
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries, dried juniper berries OR pickling spices
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped (no leaves)
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 medium leek, chopped
- 10 medium mushrooms, quartered
- 2 tomatoes, quartered
- 4 garlic cloves, halved
- 1 cup chopped turnips, parsnips or rutabaga
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped, optional
- 1 Tablespoon Marmite or other concentrated vegetable broth base
- 2 cups red wine
- Aprox 3 quarts water
Place the herbs and peppercorns in a tea-ball, or a 10-inch piece of cheesecloth and tie with a 3-inch piece of butcher’s twine to make a sachet; this makes removing them much easier.
Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add the vegetables and oil. Cover and "sweat" the vegetables until soft: (cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the vegetables are softened, 5 - 10 minutes, a little browning is OK though too). Add the herb sachet to the stockpot and the water and wine - should be enough to cover the vegetables by several inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 2 hours, skimming off impurities if needed.
Strain the stock through a colander lined with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. The cheesecloth makes for a clearer broth.
Use the stock immediately or cool in 'fridge. The stock will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
I like this for soup base and for gravy, adjust the seasonings to your taste (I always say that, I know, but MY tastes are not the same as yours, you may have to play with it a bit, that's the fun of cooking!)
To make gravy with this stock, just use it wherever your favorite recipe asks for "broth or stock".