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Q.How do I make a homemade vegetable stock?

Maria João Belchior, Portugal

HKA: Vegetable stocks are a great way to use up peelings or any odds and ends of veggies. Add some kombu or other seaweed along with a few dried shiitake mushrooms and you are on your way to creating a nourishing, mineral rich, gut soothing, plant based stock.

The simple version is to add your veg trimmings to a large saucepan and fill with water. I always add extra onion, celery and carrot alongside garlic or ginger (depending on what I might want to be making with the stock later). Add a strip of kombu seaweed, a few dried shiitake mushrooms and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minimum of one hour to 3 hours.

A more nutrient dense and flavourful version is to make a kombu ‘dashi’ first. A dashi is a stock or broth that forms the basis of many Japanese dishes. Just before you do that rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in luke warm water. To make the dashi add the kombu to a pan of cold water. Bring the water to a temperature that is a pre-simmer. You will see tiny bubbles coming to the surface as the water is on its way to the boil. Keep the flame low here and try not to let the water actually come to a boil or simmer. Keep it like this for an hour, then remove the kombu.

Now you can add your veggies of choice and any peelings etc, alongside the shiitake mushrooms. You can add the soaking water too, if you like. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.

I like to let this cook for at least 3 hours, sometimes up to 6 and I pack the pan with veg.
About halfway through cooking I might also add some arame, wakame or dulse seaweed too.

If you wanted an even deeper and more earthy flavour (as well as extra nutrient boost) then you could add powdered medicinal mushrooms such as reishi or chaga. If you are new to using these then add towards the end of cooking, say in the last hour, a little bit at a time until you get the flavour right for you.

Strain before using. Drink as it is, use as a base for miso soup, for cooking rice, noodles or pasta in it, use in soups and stews or for a vegetarian gravy.

* To vary your vegetarian stocks you could add lemongrass, galanghal, ginger, lime leaves, chilli and coriander seeds to the pot OR a blend of ginger, fennel seeds, star anise, cardamom pods, cinnamon and coriander seed to make lovely fragrant stocks.

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