Utterly delicious, all-purpose stock mirrors classic brown stock in technique and depth of flavor, but without the meat.
This marvelous all vegetable brown stock is the result of a bit of serendipity. I read something about a 3-star French chef who has done away with traditional veal stock, replacing it with caramelized mushroom stock. He swears it’s as good or better than meat-based stock.
So of course I had to try it. I used my tried-and-true Brown Poultry Stock as a model and ventured forth. You’ll want to review Stock Making: Tips and Tricks in that article before you proceed.
This utterly delicious, meat-free, basic stock mirrors Brown Poultry Stock in technique. But rather than use beef, veal, or poultry as the base, it uses standard button mushrooms.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (olive oil can also be used, but it is more difficult to remove from the stock later)
2 pounds white button mushrooms, cleaned, ends trimmed, and quartered
4 small parsnips, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
4 small carrots, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
6 large shallots or ½ large onion, ends trimmed and roughly chopped with skins
4 cloves garlic, skinned and smashed
12 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh thyme
fine sea salt, to taste, optional
- Arrange rack in the middle of the oven with plenty of head room, and heat to 450ºF.
- In a large roasting pan or ovenproof casserole, arrange mushrooms, parsnips, carrots, celery, shallots and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. (If you have a large Le Creuset casserole, use it. You will be able to take it straight from the oven and onto the burner for the simmering stage. No fuss, no muss.)
- Roast for 60 minutes, turning and rearranging vegetables every 15 minutes. (Mushrooms exude a lot of water to begin with, but that will evaporate by the 30- minute mark.) Vegetables should be well browned.
- Remove vegetables from the oven and scrape into a large soup pot or cast iron casserole (if not already in a cast iron casserole).
- Deglaze the roasting pan with a little water, scraping up all the bits and pieces from the bottom and sides. Pour all of the collected juices into the soup pot.
- Add cold water, parsley, bay leaf, cloves, and thyme.
- Partially cover, and continue cooking at a very slow simmer for about 1½ hours. To determine if stock has simmered long enough, taste a mushroom. If it has any taste at all remaining, simmer a bit longer.
- Remove vegetables from the stockpot with a large slotted spoon, and pour stock through a triple mesh strainer into a clean saucepan. There will be virtually no flavor or nutrients left in the vegetables at this point; they should be discarded.
- Now check stock for taste. If there is not enough flavor, simply boil it down to concentrate its strength.
- Salt may be added now if desired, although I think it is generally preferable to wait with seasoning until the final dish is prepared utilizing the stock. Do not add salt if you plan to reduce stock further to make Caramelized Mushroom Demi-Glace (recipe below).
- Refrigerate, covered, until thoroughly cold.
- To degrease stock (not necessary for most soups), carefully scrape the hardened butter from the top of the stock. If you used oil rather than butter, it may be easier to reheat the stock, let it sit for several minutes, and then pour it through a bottom-pouring fat separator.
- Boil the stock for several minutes every few days to keep it from spoiling, or freeze in 2-cup batches.
Makes about 2 quarts.
The most elegant soup in the world is a crystal clear consommé–with perhaps just a few vegetable shavings or fresh herbs floating in the transparent broth.
2 cups clarified Caramelized Mushroom Stock
a few vegetables shavings (mushroom, parsnip, carrot, parsley root)
a few fresh herb leaves (thyme, sage, rosemary)
- Clarify the stock as specified below.
- Scatter a few vegetable shavings and fresh herb leaves on the bottom of 2 wide-rimmed, shallow soup bowls.
- Reheat stock, and pour over the vegetables in each bowl. Grind a little finishing salt on the edge of the bowl for effect.
Demi-glace is simply highly reduced stock. It’s amazing how much flavor it contains. It’s great to have on hand in the freezer.
2 quarts unsalted Caramelized Mushroom Stock
- Complete Caramelized Mushroom Stock, but don’t salt it.
- Pour into a container and refrigerate overnight.
- Scrape any oil from the top of cold stock, and return stock to a clean saucepan.
- Clarify stock and strain, as directed below.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, and reduce to about 2 cups.
- Freeze in tablespoon-size quantities. An ice cube tray works great for this.
Makes about 2 cups.
Clarifying stock removes all the little bits that give it a cloudy appearance. There are a few methods for achieving a clear stock, but the egg white raft seems the easiest to me. Egg whites are whisked into a boiling stock and in the process they grab onto all of the particles floating in the stock.
2 quarts Caramelized Mushroom Stock, strained, chilled, degreased, and strained again (from above)
2 egg whites
Equipment Note I specify 6 layers of cheesecloth because that’s what it will take if you use the subpar grocery store brands. If you use this professional-grade cheesecloth, you will only need two layers.
- Pour cold stock through a triple-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. This should strain out any remaining fat.
- Bring stock to a rolling boil.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy and then stir into boiling stock.
- Remove stock from the heat, and let cool.
- Strain stock (with the egg white raft) through a triple-mesh sieve lined with 2-6 layers of cheesecloth.
Makes 6-12 cups.
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- France’s Top Chef Alain Ducasse Reduces Amount Of Meat on the Menu | The Guardian
- Meat on the Side: Modern Menus Shift the Focus to Vegetables | The Wall Street Journal
- Top Chef Menu Trends: Tamarind, Kumquats, Quinoa | Healthy. Happy. Life.
Copyright 2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.