Kombu broth with quick pickled vegetables
Start the day before. Firstly, you need a GOOD vegetable stock, this means you’re making it from scratch, not crumbling a cube.
Peel and chop into 1cm dice:
- One head of celery (yes, peel this too)
- 6 white onions
- 4 medium carrots
- The white of one large leek
Fry these all together gently, along with a few peppercorns, salt, and bay & thyme. This stage is crucial, if you just put the vegetables into water raw, you’re going to lose out on loads of flavour & body. You’re not looking for any colouring on the veg, just that they’ve all softened and smell sweet, the onions will be translucent by this point. If you want something a bit more substantial, then feel free to caramelise the veg which will give you a deeper, darker stock.
Turn the heat up and add a good splash of white, dry vermouth & a larger one of white wine. Allow this to reduce then cover everything with hot (not boiling water), simmer for 30 mins – 2 hours. It’s important you don’t boil it as the veg will act as a sponge for the stock you’re creating and you’ll be left with a very poor yield.
Drain through a colander, then through a sieve, then through a fine chinois or muslin cloth. Do this when it’s hot, I try to avoid pushing down using a ladle as you’re forcing impurities into the finished product.
Return the stock to a pan, taste – are you happy with it? Does it need salt? Does it need reducing? If so do that, you can now boil the hell out of it. Once you’re happy with the flavour & consistency, strain again, allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate overnight.
The next day. Put the kettle on. Prepare some vegetables into smallish chunks, I tend to use carrots, green beans and baby corn. Add these to salted boiling water and cook until just underdone. Whilst these are boiling away, take a level tablespoon of salt, one of sugar, 6 of white wine vinegar and a pinch of chilli flakes (optional), mix these together in a bowl with enough hot water to dissolve the salt & sugar.
Once the veg are nearly cooked, drain and add to the pickling mixture. It’s important that you do that when the veg are hot so they cool in the liquid and soak up the flavours. Leave in for 1-3 hours, depending on how strong you want them to be.
When you’re ready to serve take the stock out of the fridge, if there are any impurities pass it through a fine chinois. Take 3 large sheets of dried kombu (broth style, not sushi style) and place in the bottom of a large pan, pour over the cold stock and place over a high heat.
Divide the vegetables between soup bowls, then keep an eye on the stock, the moment it comes to the boil, take it off the heat, and strain it (to remove the kombu) and pour over the vegetables.
This is great as a light starter, but if you add some crispy deep fried tofu it becomes a more substantial dish.