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Making vegetable stock is easy especially if you have the tougher leaves from your own vegetables or buy them from a market where they are not trimmed down to the cleaner more tender parts. Don’t be rigid about what goes into the stock pot, pea and bean pods are fine, the tough stems of broccoli and cabbage, the sad vegetables in your bin at the end of the week including wrinkly tomatoes and peppers and, failing all that, one of those mixed stew packs will make good stock. I generally like to include onion and carrots, and then whatever else is available, the more variety the better.

The stock for this soup was made with –

the pods from some broad beans

the green tops of a bunch of spring onion and a bunch of spring garlic

the base and tough stems of one of those green cauliflowers with pyramids

the white stems of a bunch of Swiss card

the thick stem of a broccoli

a couple of soft carrots

Wash everything and scrub rather than peel the carrots. Trim dirty ends off then roughly chop everything and put in a large pan.

Pour in boiling water to just cover, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for an hour.

Don’t add salt at this point as when you come to use the stock you may want to add salty flavourings or reduce the stock in which case you would end up with a dish that’s too salty.

Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

MUSHROOM CONSOMMÉ – three servings

1.2 litres vegetable stock

50 grams Fresh enoki mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon marmite

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

2 slices fresh ginger

finely chopped parsley

Put the cool stock in a pan and add the mushrooms and ginger.

Stir in the Marmite and soy sauce.

Leave the soup for at least an hour for the flavours to blend.

Ten minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, bring it slowly to the boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes.

Serve with the parsley sprinkled over.