Vegetable Broth, a complex animal
I heard an amazing story on the radio about Eduardo Sousa, a Spanish farmer who produces fois gras, not by force feeding his geese, but by turning his property into a smorgasbord of figs, acorns, herbs and seeds. The geese gorge themselves, fattening their own livers, which results in an apparently transcendent fois gras. One may detect subtle notes from the animal's diet, and one may even discern that this was the liver of a happy, well-fed goose.
Alas, a vegetarian cannot know. Some of us have never even eaten a crappy fois gras. We wonder how delicacies like these could possibly taste. I've polled people for over twenty years about what lobster is like. Responses have ranged from chewy to crunchy. I can't figure that out. I've never eaten a duck. For foul, I've had chicken and turkey. For seafood, I've had tunafish sandwiches and about 5 fried scallops. One time in college, I tried caviar because the tin said it was harvested without killing the fish. This is the logic by which I enjoy chicken eggs, a logic that has prompted too many unsolicited discussions about the degree to which an egg is just another form of a chicken, discussions that make me wish I had an egg to throw.
This recipe for veggie broth began with two freezer shelves full of vegetables that we obtained throughout the late fall and early winter. Boiled together in a pot with a good pinch of salt and a couple bay leaves, the broth carries notes of all the vegetables in it. One may detect subtle notes of parsnip in the risotto...
Frozen vegetables (beets, butternut squash, parsnips, celery, green bell peppers, scallions, whatever)
Scallions in oil on the stovetop.
Little handfuls of everything else.
Covered with water, plenty of salt, and bay leaves (I used four here. Two might have been better.)
Boil for about 20 minutes.
Veggie broth, reddish from the beets. No, it's not kool aid, it's veggie broth.