What Is Vegetarian Chicken Stock?

C. K. Lanz

Vegetarian chicken stock is a water base made with a combination of vegetables, spices, and other flavorings that mock the taste of traditional chicken stock. The ingredients are typically simmered in water, imbuing the liquid with the combined flavors. Vegetarian chicken stock can also be purchased ready-made or in dried cubes. This mock chicken stock is used when preparing dishes like soups and stews or sauces for people who do not or cannot eat chicken.

Most vegetarian stock recipes call for celery.
Most vegetarian stock recipes call for celery.

Stock is a flavored liquid base made by simmering ingredients and spices in water for varying lengths of time and then discarding the solids. It is commonly used to make stews, soups, and sauces. There are many types of stock, including chicken, fish, and beef. Seafood, veal, and vegetable are also common. Many stocks, including vegetarian chicken stock, can be made from scratch or purchased ready-made in a can or other container or in the form of dried cubes.

Vegetarians chicken stock can be made using spices and vegetables that create a flavor that is similar to chicken.
Vegetarians chicken stock can be made using spices and vegetables that create a flavor that is similar to chicken.

Traditional chicken stock is usually made with leftover chicken bones and meat. The cartilage in particular imbues a strong flavor. The recommended ratio for a rich chicken stock is one part chicken to two parts water. Celery, carrots, and leeks or onions are commonly added along with parsley, dill, and bay leaves. Chicken stock usually simmers for several hours, and any skin that forms on the surface is removed.

The specific combination of vegetables and spices used to make vegetarian chicken stock varies. Celery, carrots, and mushrooms are commonly used, as are onions and garlic. Bay leaves and parsley are typical flavorings, although some recipes also call for rubbed sage. Nutritional yeast, a deactivated yeast sold as a yellow powder or flakes, is often added to impart a chicken meat flavor. Salt and pepper can be added to taste.

Vegans and vegetarians do not consume meat or food products made from it. These diets are adopted for myriad reasons, including ethical, health, and religious. As a result, individuals following these diets will not find dishes made with traditional chicken stock acceptable. Substituting vegetarian chicken stock preserves the taste of the traditional dish while respecting vegetarian and vegan dietary requirements.

In addition to those who refrain from eating poultry by choice, some people are allergic or have a food sensitivity to chicken proteins. An allergy to chicken eggs can but does not always anticipate a chicken allergy. Consuming chicken can cause gastrointestinal problems in these individuals. These individuals can use vegetarian chicken stock to avoid inadvertently consuming poultry.

Although the terms "stock" and "broth" are often used interchangeably, these were distinct concepts traditionally. Broth was the leftover liquid after simmering fish, meat, or vegetables while stock was a richer flavoring of vegetables, bones, and spices. For example, a chicken stock is traditionally made with leftover bones while the leftover meat is used to make a broth. As a result, a traditional stock has stronger flavor from the cartilage and bone and complex mix of vegetables and herbs. Generally, stocks and broths can be used interchangeably in recipes.

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