Sunday, I pulled out all the vegetables I’d frozen over the last several months and made vegetable stock. I left a couple of bags of blanched green beans, a bag of chopped celery, and a bag of corn. Everything else got thrown in the pot.
The frozen assembly consisted of spinach, kale, beet greens and stems, green beans, celery scraps, Shiitake and oyster mushroom stems, Swiss chard stems, and fennel.
I also added some chopped onion and garlic cloves.
First, I browned the vegetables in batches. The problem with frozen vegetables, however, is there’s a lot of moisture to get through before you get any browning action. Maybe I’ll defrost and drain them next time. And possibly roast them in the oven instead of on the stove.
Second, the more-or-less browned veggies got tossed in the stock pot, which was then filled three quarters full of water.
After bringing it to boil, I let the pot simmer for about an hour. Then I strained the stock and put it back in the pot to cook uncovered until it had boiled down to half as much. It’s easier to store concentrated stock.
To freeze the stock, I poured it into ice cube trays.
Once they were frozen, I popped them into freezer bags. I got seven ice cube trays worth. If each concentrated cube makes a cup of stock, then that’s seven gallons of stock!
What to do with seven gallons of mediocre vegetable stock
If the stock were better, I’d give some of it away. But this batch is nothing to write home about. I plan to cook rice in it and maybe rotini when I make Chris’ pasta salad. I’ll use it as a base for vegetable soup, too.
That night I decided to try it as a simple lentil soup. I cooked half a cup of lentils in three cups of stock along with salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Normally, I would have added some onion, garlic, and celery, but I wanted to see how well the stock could stand on its own. (Answer: not very.)
This meal isn’t going to win any flavor medals, but lentils are a magical food. They make you feel good inside even if they don’t thrill you at first. I’ll definitely be cooking more lentils. Not as soup but with rice and some additional onion, garlic, celery, and carrots.