This homemade vegetable stock recipe is part of the Clean Eating Academy, which is a 14-week online cooking course that I enrolled in focusing on clean eating. The major tenets of this Clean Eating Academy are as follows:
- Discover how to dramatically reduce your risk for diseases that are significantly influenced by diet
- Learn how to properly use and maintain a chef’s knife, saving hours in the kitchen and minimizing food waste
- Find out what organic truly means and how it impacts health
- Understand portion sizes, macro- and micronutrients and how to balance them
- Practice farm-to-table, local and seasonal eating and discover why it matters
- Get a solid handle on good and bad fats
- Learn about dietary allergies and inflammatory foods and how to work around them
- Discover how to clean up any recipe from anywhere as we lead you step by step through the process of clean substitutions
- Have a firm understanding of all aspects of nutrition
- Know how to balance each meal for optimal health
- Learn how to decipher nutrition labels
- Know exactly which foods to eat, which to avoid and which to limit
- Understand vitamins and minerals and how to balance them within your diet
- Become familiar with nutrient-dense superfoods and become a pro at including them in your cooking
As you can see, I am on may way to becoming a Clean Culinary Specialist. Lesson 2 focuses on herbs, basic vegetable preparation, and ends with making vegetable stock, which I am going to share with you.
I like to use fresh herbs in all of my recipes, but did you know that there is a right way and wrong way to cut the herbs. There are several important factors to consider when using fresh herbs. For example, basil and cilantro are delicate and should not be minced because it causes browning or bruising and mincing may cause them to lose their flavor more quickly. Mincing or fine chopping is often used for a visual effect or garnish. Chives or curly parsley are an ideal herbs to mince. When choosing an herb, consider the best cut to preserve the flavor of the herb. Since herbs are used to enhance and infuse flavor in a recipe, the level of the herb intensity is dependent on the how it is cut. The finer the cut the more flavor it will have. And this true of rosemary. Mincing rosemary will result in an intense pine-like and pungent flavor, which is ideal for flavoring protein and if you want a mild rosemary flavor simply use an uncut sprig or two.
Additionally, herbs that tend to be heartier like rosemary and thyme should be added in the beginning of the cooking process to develop flavor and herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, or chives should be added at the end or used as a garnish. According to our manual, mincing or fine chopping adds a visual interest to recipes. The fine green specks add color and brighten up a dish. A rough chop, which is slightly larger than a mince results in less oxidization and less likely to brown. Ideal when using rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram. A chiffonade cut is used for basil, flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, and/or salad greens like spinach. The leaves are topped on top of each other, rolled like a cigarette, and cut into thin ribbon-like strips. Finally, tearing or whole leaves are ideal for a rustic look. Simply tear the leaves by hand. This works especially well for herbs with larger leaves such as cilantro, basil and flat-leaf parsley.
To enhance flavor in soups or stocks, a bouquet garni, which is French for garnished bouquet, is added to the liquid. The bundle is made up of a variety of aromatics that are wrapped with a cheesecloth and tied with kitchen string. It is very easy to assemble and super easy to remove from the soup or stock. The bouquet’s typical ingredients consist of thyme, bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns, and garlic. A great way to infuse flavor into soups.
The lesson ends with three basic vegetable cuts, which are mirepoix, paysanne, and macédoine (or medium dice). You are probably familiar with these cuts already. For example, a mirepoix is a mixture of onions, carrots and celery, which is the foundation for building flavor in many soups and stocks or it can build flavor when cooking beef, chicken, or fish. The ideal ratio is 2:1:1 (two parts onion, one carrot, one celery). The size cut for a mirepoix can range between ¾-inch to 1-inch cubes. A smaller dice is ideal for fish stock, which tends to cook pretty fast a large dice is for longer cooking of soups, stocks, chicken, and beef. A paysanne, which means simple or country style, is a thin and flat cut for vegetables that are used for stews or braised recipes. The cut doesn’t have to be perfect rather the cooking needs to be uniformed. The third cut is called macédoine (commonly referred to as medium dice). Macédoine are small cubes that are visually appealing and used for soups and stews or for vegetable recipes such as ratatouille. The macédoine has three sizes a small dice is ¼-inch cubes and a ½ inch is a medium dice and a large dice is ¾-inch cubes.
Enjoy, from my kitchen to yours.
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup onion, medium-dice
- 1 cup leeks, paysanne cut (country style)
- 1 cup celery, paysanne cut
- 1 cup carrots, paysanne cut
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole garlic clove
- 10 peppercorns
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh parsley stems
- Using a Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat, heat oil, add onions and leeks cook until translucent about 4-5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and cook 5 minutes.
- Prepare bouquet garni. Cut a 5-inch square cheesecloth and set on counter. Add all ingredients and tie with kitchen string. Using the knife's handle, crush aromatics a couple of times.
- Add tomatoes, bouquet garni, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Let stock cool. Using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, strain liquid.