You’ll find this vegetable stock to be more full-flavored than most, thanks to the shiitake mushrooms. If you prefer a less earthy taste, substitute white or brown cultivated mushrooms, or leave them out altogether. The fennel bulb adds a mild anise flavor, but it can be omitted if you prefer. In fact, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for making a good vegetable stock, except that you should avoid adding strong-flavored or deeply-colored vegetables, such as broccoli, bell peppers, or beets. With the exception of rosemary, which is really powerful, you can substitute whatever other fresh herbs you happen to have on hand to create a vegetable stock of your own.
- 2 medium-size carrots, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
- 3 celery ribs with leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 large leek, both white and light green parts, well rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 small fennel bulb (optional), sliced
- 2 medium-size zucchini, sliced
- 1 cup (about 3½ ounces) trimmed and sliced fresh shiitake mushroom caps and stems
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes (about 5), preferably Roma (plum tomatoes; see Note), cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1. Place the carrots, celery, leek, garlic, fennel, zucchini, shiitakes, tomatoes, and bay leaf in a large soup pot and add 12 cups of water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, until the flavor develops, about 1 hour.
2. Add the parsley and thyme and let simmer until the herbs release their flavor, about 20 minutes longer.
3. Remove the stock from the heat and let it cool slightly. Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl or pot and discard the solids. If you are not planning on using the stock at this time, let it come to room temperature using the quick cooling method .The stock can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
Nutritional information is based on 9 servings.