When it feels like the world is falling apart, there is always the warmth and calm of the kitchen (assuming the floor is swept!)
A nice pot of vegetable stock on a cold rainy day in January is pleasing, easy, stress-free and calming.
And then you have a (literal!) base for soup, stewed lentils, etc.
I will give you my standard “recipe” below, but the idea is to take it easy, toss in some odds and ends like the two stranded mushrooms in the produce bin, perhaps a potato if your bounty is overflowing, etc.
Get out a large soup pot — I use a 6 quart pot. Fill 2/3 full of water.
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ to 1-1/2″ pieces
1 stalk celery, and cut out some of the inside small stalks with leaves. Rinse and cut large stalk into 1-1/2″ to 2″ pieces
1 large onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 garlic cloves, whole
6 stalks fresh parsley
12 or so whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
5 mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces
1 or 2 leeks, cleaned and cut into large pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and prepared like carrot
shallot, cut in half
- Combine cleaned and chopped vegetables, water, peppercorns, etc in large pot and turn heat to high. Bring to simmer uncovered. DO NOT STIR! (Never stir a stock. That’s a rule.)
- Lower heat to a lazy simmer — bubbles come up often but not constantly. Set timer for 45 minutes and leave it to do its cooking thing, checking back occasionally to raise or lower heat as needed for that lazy simmer.
- When finished, scoop out some of the vegetables into a colander. Pour the rest through a colander into one or two large heatproof (not plastic) bowls or pots up to 4″ high, and put into refrigerator immediately to chill.
- You can use stock immediately, or next day ladle into freezer containers, label with date and freeze for up to a few months. As I have read: “Frozen assets of the best kind.”