With this entry, we are officially halfway through Vegan MoFo! I'm pretty proud of myself for posting every day so far, and now that I know I'm capable of posting so regularly, I won't have an excuse not to update at least once a week after VeganMoFo ends.
tooth extraction fiasco. The first ingredient you encounter when making a soup recipe is almost always stock or broth of some sort. I've gone back and forth between using water with a little soy sauce, which is only useful if your soup has many flavorful herbs and spices already. But if you're making a simpler soup that doesn't call for large amounts of herbs and spices, stock is what gives the soup a real depth of flavor.
I've been using Rapunzel's salt-free bouillon cubes, because that is one of the few brands whose veggie stock doesn't contain nightshades or mysterious "spices." It's fine, but the flavor isn't rich or complex. I also tried Imagine's No-Chicken Broth, which is flavorful, but it is absurdly salty. And I think the "spices" gave me a bit of a rash, so they maybe contain nightshades. And none of the packaged substitutes compare with real, homemade veggie stock.
Veggie stock recipes usually call for some whole carrots and whole onions and whole celery sticks, but the first time I made it, I didn't want to waste precious vegetables in case my veggie stock was a failure. So I looked more into the scrap method of cooking veggie stock, and let me tell you, it is the greatest thing ever. Save the ends and peels of vegetables when you're cooking with them. It's like composting, but you should save the scraps in the freezer, because otherwise they'll decompose. I recommend one of those gallon-sized ziploc bags. Every time you chop a vegetable, put the parts you don't cook with into the plastic bag. The only caveat is that you have to wash your vegetables really well so you don't get dirt in your broth. And if you don't eat organic, I'd maybe think twice about putting in peels from the higher-sprayed vegetables (celery, potatoes, carrots, peppers).
Now you have lots of veggie stock. It keeps 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but will keep forever in the freezer. I divide it up into 2 Cup or 4 Cup portions, then freeze them.
Ideally, if you know you're planning to make soup in the next 3-4 days, move the stock out of the freezer and into the fridge 6-8 hours in advance. If you're like me, though, you don't know what you're going to make for dinner until you start making it. However! I have a simple solution: almost every cooked soup recipe calls for you to saute some vegetables before you add the stock. So, if you want to make a soup but all your stock is frozen, here is a cheat: Take the stock out of the freezer just before you chop the veggies and set it on the counter. Proceed with your recipe. Toward the end of the veggies' sauteing time, dump the (frozen) stock in with the veggies. If the stock won't come out of the container, run the container under warm water for a second; it should separate the stock from the container.
the gluttonous vegan's smoky sweet potato soup! It looks silly, I know. Stir to get the frozen stock to touch the bottom of the pan. Cover, wait 5 minutes. It will have started to melt; once the bottom of the pan is covered in water you can proceed with the rest of the recipe while the rest of the stock melts in.
Homemade veggie stock is very easy, and it makes multiple meals' worth of delicious, rich stock--from stuff you would have thrown away otherwise! In terms of veggies, almost anything goes. You really can't get enough of almost all members of the onion family: onion, garlic, leeks, scallions, etc. It's also good to have some sort of scraps from one of the sweeter veggies (carrot, sweet potato, hard squash). Mushrooms are good, too, and any stems from fresh herbs, or used bay leaves. Basically, any vegetable is game for stock except veggies from the cruciferous family, because they are very strong-tasting and long boiling times make them smell funny. So leave out broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage. Also, for the same reason, leave out asparagus. Taste-wise, beets are fine, but know your veggie broth will turn purple or even black if you use them.