The Pleasures of winter
Even those of us who live in a part of the world where the native trees keep their leaves across the winter sometimes need cheering up on cold days, and to this end it’s a good idea to keep some stock. This can be made from the water in which vegetables, such as greens or brocolli, have been steamed, or that in which legumes have been cooked. You can pour in the liquid from cans of chick peas, lentils and other legumes (but be careful not to use too much, as this it has a strong taste), and if you open a can of asparagus its liquid goes very well. The water in which dried mushrooms have been boiled and left to stand while they rehydrate is excellent for this purpose. Keep your stock in the fridge (I use a big jar) and remember to boil it for a few minutes every second day, to keep it fresh.
As you add liquid from different sources your stock will become more complex in flavour, and you can use it as the base for winter soups and vegetable stews (the line between these can be a fine one.) Heat the stock and add vegetables (potato and pumpkin are hearty winter fare; if you wash your pumpkin there’s no need to peel it) and cooked legumes; white beans go very well in such a dish, and the herb that goes best with them is rosemary. Check for salt, and don’t forget to reserve some of your stock, which will serve as the basis for the next lot.