Use as a rich base for pilaf, quinoa, couscous, and other grain dishes. It’s also delicious as a stand alone soup to warm you on a chilly day.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 large carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
- 5 leeks, white parts only, cleaned, cut in 2-inch pieces*
- 3 medium onions, with skin, cut in 2-inch pieces
- 1 parsnip, cut into 4 pieces
- 4 medium yellow onions, skin only**
- ½ cup acorn squash, skin only**
- 12 cups fresh baby spinach, tightly packed or 2 large bags of frozen baby spinach
- 8 cups of water or low sodium vegetable stock
- 2 cups celery
- Stems from 2 parsley bunches
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 bay leaves
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 heads of garlic, bottom end removed, skin on
- 2 cups dry white wine***
- 3 tablespoons (24 grams) agar agar
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with the oil. Add the carrots, leeks, onions and parsnip; turn to coat. Transfer to oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove and stir the vegetables, scraping the bottom to prevent them from sticking. Return to oven and roast until the vegetables are brown and soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and stir again, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch the vegetables at this point – they shouldn’t burn.
- While the vegetables are roasting, combine the spinach, water, celery leaves, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic in a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and transfer to stovetop. Deglaze the pan over medium heat with 1 cup of wine, scraping vigorously to get all the brown bits loose. Add the roasted vegetables and wine to stockpot.
- Add the second cup of wine to the roasting pan, and deglaze again. Pour wine and any brown bits in the stock pot. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and reduce to a simmer, skimming the top for any accumulated scum. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Strain through a colander and then a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Do not press down on the solids. Let drain slowly for up to 1/2 hour with a few gentle swirls of a spoon.
If you are using this stock as the basis of a soup, while the stock is hot whisk in the agar (if using). Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. The agar will provide a gelatinous consistency.
- It’s critical to clean leeks well. Once the green parts have been cut and discarded, slice the leek in half lengthwise. Unravel each layer and place in a large bowl of water. Swirl the leeks around to dislodge any grains of dirt or sand, which will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove leeks piece by piece and rinse thoroughly under water. Pat dry on a kitchen towel.
- Use the reserved peels and skins from onions and squash used in other recipes. Save them in plastic bags in the freezer for up to 2 months. Any winter squash peel may be saved in this way.
- The white wine is essential to the flavor of the stock. Choose a dry, acidic wine of good drinking quality, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre.
- Be sure to use fresh vegetables for this stock. Vegetables may be prepped in advance, wrapped in moist paper towels and stored in plastic bags for up to 8 hours before using.