I remembered my grandfather being so fond of making broths and there was no weekend without a day of simmering soups. One of his tips is to cook everything from every ingredient’s skin to roots to shafts to everything, of course that’s after washing them. Then he would ask me and my elder sister to help chopping all of the veggies, especially onions, so we could put them in the simmering pot. He says when looking to maximise the flavor from what you’re cooking, the secret is to cook everything! Plus, dicing the vegetables finer acts better as it increases the amount of surface area in contact with the water, so it’s easier for the flavors to be infused into the stock or broth.
I also discovered some other ways to get full flavors from your stock, tips that I got from my surfing day and night.
Browning aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, celery and carrots allows natural sweating that develops and gives out sweeter flavors with more complexity to add to your stock. Mushrooms also work wonders. They act as natural monosodium glutamate (MSG) due to its high content glutamic acid. If you haven’t tried this yet, then try it the next time you cook stock and allow it to impart those lovely savory in your soup dish.
Tomatoes also possess power to enhance flavor, plus the brick red color they bring can be quite attractive, unless you want a neutral stock. Different flavor components have different levels of solubility in water at different temperatures. By using cold water while the heat is slowly increasing, you can be sure that all the flavors in your stock’s ingredients have had a chance to be extracted at their most preferred temperature. Of course, don’t forget the original power, to simmer! This further extracts all the flavour goodness.
Go easy with heat. Too high a heat and you can boil off some of the more delicate flavors, and too low and you won’t coax all the flavor out of your vegetable. Tasting the stock at regular intervals can be very helpful. You can have fun to keep samples from different times so you can taste them all together at the end and see how the flavor of your stock has developed over time.
The basis for most soups, many sauces and gravies is a good quality stock or broth. Vegetable broth is one of the most versatile components in a cook’s repetoire and with my easy tips, I hope you’ll find it easier make one at home.