Hearty, refreshing and filling soups for lunch or dinner sound magical but when it comes to making tasty vegan soups, many of us struggle with vegetable stock part especially due to the thickening issue. A stock is the real backbone of a soup. Its addition brings out the natural flavor of foods and adds a splash of richness and complexity.
Making a tasty meat-based stock is very easy, simply put some bones and vegetables in a pot and cover with water. Let it simmer till it's done and viola. You can even get a good quality canned meat or chicken stock from the store. But when it comes to good tasting veggie stock, it is hard to find one. Most of the canned vegetable stocks give a strangely sweet flavor with dried herbs which consequently results in a tasteless vegan soup.
Making A Vegetable Stock is Super Easy
Guess what? Making a tasty veggie stock is super simple, and you can be done with it in approximately a quarter of the time of a meat-based broth. Simply put some chopped vegetables in a pan, cover with water, and simmer until done. For the thickening part, we will be sharing with you some pro tips, and you will have a tasty and layered full of rich flavors to make your soups, stews, casseroles, and pilafs. You can even use your vegetable stock in basic pan sauces or to glaze or moisten vegetables and pasta.
Choose the Right Vegetables for Vegetable Stock
It is the first step and probably the most important one because if you want to end up with delicious tasting soup, then you would want vegetables with neutral and savory flavor. Celery, Onions, carrots, and mushrooms are the perfect vegetables for the stock, while leeks, tomatoes, and parsnips also offer good flavor. If you want strong flavor, garlic is your friend. However, your vegetable selection must depend on how you will be using your stock.
Vegetables that Aren’t Suitable for Vegetables Stock
When making vegetable stock, you should avoid starchy veggies such as potatoes and turnips will give you a gummy or cloudy vegetable stock. Beets, on the other hand, tend to overpower other aromatic elements. While vegetables like greens beans and zucchinis become bitter when simmered slowly for the time required to make a veggie stock.
Let’s Get into Stocking Up
Now that we know what to work with, it’s time to start working. Don’t forget to get a pot big enough to add all your vegetables and the water required. Now, it’s time to add your vegetables. Onions, celery, and carrots give the stock an amazing base flavor, or you can go with traditional mirepoix. Onions add pungency, and a touch of sweetness which carrots enhance and celery balances it with a slight bitterness and gives the stock, grassy notes. We will advise you to add vegetables in roughly equal portions to ensure that your stock will have a balanced flavor.
To add complexity to your stock, you can add yellow onions, leek tops, and some of the smashed garlic cloves.
Spices and Herbs
Herbs add complexity to stock and aroma. If you want a vegetal bitterness, go for parsley stems and leaves, want a savory aroma, thyme is great, wish richness and depth then let some dried bay leaves add their distinct subtle eucalyptus aroma.
For spices part, a mix of black pepper, coriander seeds, and some fennel seeds is superb. It is because none of them overpowers the other spices and the resulting soup.
For Thickness and Umami Part
Now, vegan soups don’t have gelatin, which adds body and richness in the bone-based soups. So, adding glutamates is the way to go. Glutamates are the compound that adds that creamy thickness to a soap. There are many vegan and natural sources of them. Kombu is a powerful ingredient known due to its umami and thickening properties. It is a sea kelp which is widely used in Japanese stocks and the secret behind their savory sensation. Dried mushrooms will also upgrade your veggie stock.
Let’s Get the Stock On
Now, simply add water and keep in mind that water quantity should make it easy for you to stir the vegetables in the pot. The quantity of water entirely depends on your liking. If you want a more concentrated stock, lees water is the way to go. If you like a lightly flavored stock, simply add more water.
Now, place the pot over medium-high heat and wait for just one boil. Once the water starts to bubble around the boundaries of the pot with some wisps of steam on the surface, simply turn the heat down to a medium-low.
Let the stock simmer for about an hour. While there is no science behind it but one hour is generally considered enough time to get the water infused with all the vegetable goodness. After one hour, take your pot off the stove and eliminate all the vegetables with a spoon. Now get a strainer, place it over a bowl with a cheese cloth or coffee filter and strain the stock. If you don’t wish to use the stock immediately, then let it cool down and freeze.
It’s Soup Time
Now that you have got your stock, your soup is principally made because a good stock is what you need to make a tasty vegan soup. Now, all you have to do is to add your vegetables and let them cook while letting the soup to simmer.
To add body to your soup, you can add a tiny amount of a cornstarch slurry to the mix. It will add richness without tasting starchy or slimy.
Finally, adding a bit of soy sauce will give you more of an umami hit, while a dash of lemon juice brightens up your soup when added just before serving. Now, you got a 100% vegan soup with delicious, rich, and complex flavors with a hearty broth.