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Summer Vegetable Stock

For me, this is an indispensable recipe from the original Greens Cookbook.  I always keep a few quarts of this on hand to complement the dishes where chicken or turkey stock just won't work, or to substitute for turkey stock if I am feeding a vegetarian.  The tomatoes and potatoes and yeast make for a relatively cloudy stock, but that's fine by me when it tastes this good.
  I alter the order of the ingredients a little based on my preferences for which I want more deeply cooked or carmelized.

This recipe makes about cups of stock, depending on how much you press out of the vegetables.

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

it's ok to use all olive oil if you want to avoid the butter, but some fat is necessary if you're going to bring out the vegetables' flavor by sauteeing and browning them first

1 onion

8 stems parsley
2 bay leaves
1 or 2 stems basil
several stems of marjoram
few stems of other summer herbs if available--savory, lovage, borage (leaves)

2 carrots
2 celery stalks

1 cup eggplant
1 potato (I count a large Idaho baker as 2, a medium yukon gold or red potato as 1)

4 summer squash (small zucchini, patty pan, yellow crookneck, etc)
4 ounces mushrooms (4-6 dried shiitake also work great here, if pre-soaked and sliced)
1 handful green beans
4 leaves of chard with stems (lettuce is also fine here, but spinach

4 tomatoes (canned work ok in a pinch, and are much better than out-of-season flavorless things)
1 teaspoon yeast flakes (this is the yellow stuff sold as 'nutritional yeast', not to be confused with baker's or brewer's yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups cold water

Wash all the vegetables except the onion.  Trim any dry/brown/off bits.

Peel the onion, discard the skin, and slice the onion thinly. 

In a good-sized stockpot (I routinely prepare double or triple versions of this recipe in a 16 quart stockpot, although the triple batches are always a bit tricky until the vegetables start to soften and collapse), heat the butter and olive oil.  Add the sliced onion, and washed stems of herbs and cook until the onion is translucent, or if you want a deeper flavored stock, until it gets rather brown and carmelized.   Stir from time to time, but you're going to be chopping the other vegetables as it goes, so this is not a high-heat fast-moving sautee.

While it cooks, thinly slice the carrots and celery; add them and keep cooking.

Slice & add the eggplant and potato, and keep cooking.  By now any true notion of sauteeing is gone, you're more 'sweating' the vegetables, but the main point is that you want to cook them a good deal before adding the water, so they'll brown a little and develop more flavor than if they were dropped straight into cold water.  It takes a bit of force to be sure nothing is sticking/burning on the bottom by this point.

Work through the squash, mushrooms, green beans, chard or lettuce the same way--slice thinly, add, stir.  Slice the tomatoes (or coarsely chop canned peeled tomatoes), and add with the yeast, and salt.  Add the cold water now, or cook a little longer until you're happy with the doneness of the vegetables.  Then bring it all to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.

Strain the stock:  I usually set up my other 16 quart pot with a heavy duty colander over it first, to get the big pieces of vegetables out of the way, then rinse the first pot and strain the stock back into it through a finer strainer lined with cheesecloth or a jelly bag. 

At this point you can use the stock, refrigerate it for a few days, or freeze it for months. 

Because this is a low-acid food, even with the tomatoes, I can it at pressure with my pressure canner.  You should follow the directions provided with your canner, or use a reliable guide like the Ball Blue Book.  (If you do this one wrong it can kill you).  I routinely go for overkill on this one--my ball guide calls for pints 30 minutes at 10 lbs and quarts 35 minutes at 10 pounds, and my pressure canner doesn't have an adjustable gauge, so I generally do 40 minutes at 15 lbs, not worrying about my mix of quarts, pints, and half pints, because I'm timing for the largest jars in the batch.

Once canned, the stock lasts indefinitely at room temp:  I've never had any last much more than a year, because I go through it pretty quickly, but occasionally I find a little jar that slipped behind something else and is 2-3 years old, and it's just fine.  And because I virtually always use my stock in soups and stews, I am always heating it up again to boiling and usually keeping it there for a while, which is recommended for all low-acid foods--just in case a few botulism spores got in there and made some toxin, boiling for some minutes will break down the toxin and kill the bacteria. 

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