; Vegan Safran Risotto - Simply Soup

VeganSafran Risotto

By Jack McNulty, Professional Chef

I usually prepare my own vegetable broth to use in soups, risottos, stews and pilafs. But even professional chefs sometimes lack the time to make a fresh vegetable broth and that’s when using Simply Soup’s instant version becomes a great time saver without being a flavor sacrifice.

Risotto is a dish that requires a flavorful broth. Here’s how I use Simply Soup’s instant version to make my basic risotto. I’ve also included a couple of variations that are simple and delicious.

These risotto variations make enough for about 6-8 normal servings.

2 1/2 liters water
3 teaspoons Simply Soup Vegetable Broth
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
100 ml. white wine
500 grams risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano)
50-75 grams nutritional yeast (for vegan version) or grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly grated nutmeg to season

1) Begin by making the broth in a medium-size pot. Bring the water to a gentle simmer, then add the Simply Soup Vegetable Broth. Stir the broth well and keep at a gentle simmer (you can also blend the broth with a handheld immersion blender to create a richer tasting broth).

2) Heat a broad, sturdy pot over medium heat and add the chopped onion to the pan. Add a good pinch of salt to the onion and stir well. Continue to cook the onion until it softens (be sure to add a splash of water to the onions if they begin to stick to the pot bottom). Add the olive oil to the softened onions, then add the rice. Stir the mixture well until all the rice grains are coated with fat.

3) Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the white wine and cook over a lively heat until the wine has evaporated.

4) Add about 240 ml. of hot broth to the rice. Continue to stir the rice gently until most of the liquid has been soaked up by the rice. Add another 240 ml. of hot broth and continue with this process of stirring gently, then adding liquid until the rice is nearly cooked. This will take between 13-18 minutes.

5) Taste the rice mixture and adjust the seasoning with sea salt, grated nutmeg and perhaps a bit of olive oil.

6) Remove the pan from the heat and add the nutritional yeast for a vegan version or the parmesan cheese. Allow the risotto to sit for about 7-10 minutes. A finished risotto should have just enough moisture to create a gentle wiggle on the plate or in a serving bowl. Add a bit more hot broth if your risotto became too dry.

Variation #1 – Make a Saffron Risotto
This variation is quite simple to make. Follow the instruction above and make a basic risotto. Soak about 1 teaspoon of saffron threads in room temperature water for about 10 minutes – this will soften the threads and extract maximum amounts of flavor and color. Add the soaked saffron and all the liquid to the hot broth about 5 minutes before the risotto is finished, then add this flavored broth to the rice to finish your dish.

Variation #2 – Make a Butternut Squash Risotto
Prepare one medium-sized butternut squash by peeling it and removing all the seeds…but don’t throw away the peel and seeds – add them to your simmering broth to create a pumpkin broth. Cube the butternut squash into 1-cm pieces. Add the squash to the rice after the wine has been added as instructed in the basic risotto recipe. Add some finely chopped sage leaves to the risotto about 2-3 minutes before it is finished.

Variation #3 – Make a Mushroom Risotto
Soak 10 grams dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes. Carefully strain the soaking liquid directly into your gently simmering basic broth. Chop the softened dried porcini mushrooms and reserve. Chop 300 grams fresh mushrooms (use any combination that suits you) and add to the chopped porcini mushrooms. Add all the mushrooms to the softened onions and cook about 10 minutes. Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and continue as instructed in the basic risotto rice recipe. Add chopped green herbs to the finished risotto before serving (I like using a combination of parsley and chives).