In the very beginnings of my cooking, I learned that I always had to have one, almost magical, cooking ingredient in the fridge that is versatile and endlessly useful: the stock. It is irreplaceable in the preparation of risottos, various stews and is also useful when you want home-made soups, especially if you are short on time.
It is very easy to prepare and even easier to store – by freezing. If you are lucky enough to have a large freezer, as soon as it cools down, pour it into small plastic bowls and store it in the freezer. An even better option is to use plastic bags to make ice cubes: fill them with stock and place in the freezer; this will save space, making it easier to “dose” when needed. If you are making a dish that just needs a little flavor boost, take a few cubes. If you need more, use them all.
I am not inclined to buy mass produced items of this type so I always set aside a little time and make good quality stock from selected vegetables.
This stock couldn’t be easier to prepare: put the food in the pot and simply let it simmer. I learned from my grandmother that the red onion should be peeled for a more intense and finer taste of the soup and toasted lightly over the fire to brown the crumb. This scent always reminds me of my childhood and really gives it a special “touch”.
Since we usually buy homegrown chicken, I usually prepare chicken stock but recently, I cooked a vegetable stock that turned out great so I want to share it with you. It is finished in 45-50 min.
- 1 red onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 piece of celery root
- 2-3 pieces of green leeks (use white for something else, for example, instead of onions in a risotto)
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 1 piece of kombu seaweed (about 5 cm)
- 3 leaves of laurel
- a sprig of thyme
- a couple twigs of parsley
- half teaspoon black pepper
- half a teaspoon of fennel seeds
- half a teaspoon of coriander seeds
Chop the ingredients, put them in the pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let it cook until the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. You can lightly season the stock with salt, but then you must take care not to salt at the time when you unfreeze and use the stock. Once the vegetables have softened, strain the stock and let it cool before storing it in the fridge. If you do not freeze it, you can store it up to 5 days in the refrigerator.