There is nothing weak-kneed about this vegetable broth. It's big flavors hold their own in any dish where poultry or meat stocks are usually used. Make the broth in about two hours. Most of that time taken up with unattended simmering. Freeze it and see what a good foundation it makes for broth based soups, and in risottos, pasta sauces and most any vegetable dish. The broth keeps up to four days in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer.
Cook to Cook: If possible, use organically raised produce here. Freeze some of the stock in ice cubs trays (turning out cubes into a plastic bag once they are frozen). Each cube equals about 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons. Freeze remainder in assorted sized container up to 6 months.
- 2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 large stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
- 4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon dry basil
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 6 large romaine lettuce leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 large ripe fresh tomato, chopped, or 2 canned plum tomatoes, crushed
- a pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- about 4 to 5 quarts water
1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch saute pan or skillet (not non-stick!) over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery, onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spatula, until the onions are a golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and basil and cook a few seconds more.
2. Add the wine and stir, scraping up any brown glaze in the pan, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to an 8-quart stock pot. Add the romaine, tomatoes, nutmeg and enough water to cover the solids by 3 to 4 inches. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover, and simmer slowly for about 90 minutes.
3. Strain the broth into a large bowl, pressing down on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Cool and chill. Skim off any solidified oil from broth's surface. Refrigerate or freeze.