Deep flavors. An herbal, umami-rich stock for winter cooking. [Editor’s Note: That’s all the author had to say about this recipe. And that’s all that really needs to be said. The stock simply must be experienced to be understood.]–Nigel Slater
What is “brown” stock?
This recipe was originally titled “brown vegetable stock” and this refers to the primary ingredients being roasted prior to being tossed into a pot and simmered with water and aromatics. The same terminology applies to beef and chicken stocks, which can similarly be made with raw ingredients or roasted ones. Roasting imparts a richer, more caramelized flavor to the resulting stock and tends to be accompanied by a darker, more chestnut-colored stock, or, if you will, brown. Hence the name.
Roasted Vegetable Stock
- 2 medium (about 1 lb) onions, chopped, peels reserved
- 9 ounces carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks (3 1/2 oz) celery, chopped
- A small whole head garlic, separated into cloves
- 3 tablespoons light miso paste
- 1/3 cup water, plus 3 quarts (3 liters)
- 1 3/4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 12 black peppercorns
- 1/3 ounce dried kombu
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a large roasting pan, combine the onions, onion peels, carrots, celery, and garlic cloves.
- In a small bowl, mix together the miso paste and 1/3 cup of water. Stir this into the vegetables, coating them lightly.
- Roast, tossing the vegetables once or twice during cooking, until everything is brown, fragrant, and toasty, 45 to 60 minutes. Keep a close eye on the vegetables towards the end so as not to let them take on a scorched taste.
☞ TESTER TIP: If your vegetables look like they’re drying out or the miso is beginning to burn, drizzle an additional 1/3 cup water over the vegetables while they are roasting.
- Pile the roasted vegetables and aromatics in a large pot. Add the shiitake, rosemary, thyme, bay, peppercorns, and kombu, and then pour a little of the 3 quarts of water into the roasting pan, scraping up the caramelized bits stuck to the pan, then pour all that into the saucepan. Add the remaining water.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered with a lid, until the broth is a deep brown color and has a rich flavor, 45 to 60 minutes
- Pour the broth through a sieve into a heatproof bowl and let cool.
- Cover and refrigerate and use as necessary. It will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe delivered as promised. In fact, I was so sure of its potential that I made it a second time. The part about being cautious not to burn the veggies as the burnt flavor translated into the sauce should not be taken lightly!
Miso paste burns easily. So do onion skins. On my second try, I roasted the veggies for 30 minutes with the 1/3 cup of water then added another 1/3 cup, mixed the veggies, and roasted for another 20 minutes for 50 minutes total. I chopped the onions with the skins unpeeled. The veggies were dark brown with crispy edges but not burnt. My kitchen smelled amazing!
I deglazed the pan, simmered my roasted veggies and aromatics for 60 minutes. After 30 minutes, I tasted the stock every 15 minutes. At 45 minutes, the stock had a more mellow flavor whereas at 60 minutes the flavor was a bit bitter, probably from the shiitake mushrooms. It wasn’t unpleasant at all but I did prefer the taste after 45 minutes of simmering time.
I allowed the broth to settle for 30 minutes then strained using a sieve lined with cheesecloth, one ladle at a time, without pressing the solids. This gave me a yield of 2 litres (2 quarts) of clear, chestnut-colored broth. I strained the remaining veggies into a second container, extracting as much liquid as possible, and ended up with another 100 ml of thick brown sauce that I froze for a future stir-fry sauce.
As for the clear, rich-flavored, deep chestnut-colored stock, we each enjoyed a bowl as a starter with a few sautéed fresh shiitake mushrooms with fresh cilantro and a few slices of bird’s eye chiles. It was comforting with a complex and satisfying flavor profile that was also addictive…just one more spoonful…
This roasted vegetable stock brings together the best of two worlds: it combines the sweet richness of a roasted vegetable stock with the umami of a mushroom dashi. And it does this while remaining neutral enough in flavor that it can go into dishes from a variety of food traditions.
I decided the best test for this stock would be to make a simple brown gravy, which is something that is rarely actually simple to make in a vegan version. So I sautéed some mushrooms and onion, deglazed with a bit of bourbon, then added this stock. I thickened the gravy with some reserved stock mixed with cornstarch. And this made a pretty perfect gravy.
If this stock can, relatively unadorned, make a good vegan gravy, it can also shine in your soups, your risotto, and any other application calling for a rich stock.
I don’t know why this is, but as many times as I have made chicken stock and beef stock at home, I have never made a true vegetable stock. I’ve done quick versions like a court bouillon, but never a proper roasted veggie stock like this one. Well, this recipe changes that for me! A fun process with delicious results—I’ll be making this again and again.
The intoxicating smell alone of the roasted veggies covered in miso paste in the hot oven was a delight. I was surprised that there was no added oil or salt in the recipe itself but the miso stood in for both the salt and oil, in that respect. The only thing I would suggest watching in the recipe is the cooking time in the 400°F oven. I checked my veggies after only 20 minutes and they needed a good turning over; at this temp, they were done in 45 minutes. At this point they were nicely browned, fragrant, but not burned. Also, in Step 3 when you are tossing the veggies with the miso-water mixture, I found this easier to do in a bowl rather than on the sheet pan itself.
I cooked my stock on medium-low heat (at a simmer) for 1 hour uncovered and this was a perfect cooking time to achieve a deep brown broth. I used my broth in an Asian-inspired vegetable and tofu dumpling soup with mixed veggies and a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce. (Lastly, I hated the idea of just tossing the cooked carrots, mushrooms, celery, onions, etc., after the stock was strained, so I froze them to add to my next braise for flavor.)