Vegetable stock is the building block for many great soups, sauces and rice dishes. It’s easier to make than you think, and packed with homemade, authentic flavors that are irreplaceable by any store-bought version.
Stock-making is for anyone looking to create flavorful, hearty dishes. Feel free to make large batches to freeze, and pull out on demand.
Vegetable stock is easy to make, but not anything and everything goes. Here are some points to keep in mind to create a well-balanced stock.
The Best Vegetables for Vegetable Stock
When making a basic vegetable stock, you want vegetables with neutral, but savory flavors. Onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms are the ideal starter vegetables. Leeks contribute a mild yet flavorful presence.
When creating a vegetable stock, we’re looking for a meat replacement option, and mushrooms seem to be the answer! They contribute a meaty-umami flavor that lends a powerhouse of flavor enhancing goodness.
Vegetables to Avoid When Making Vegetable Stock
Not every vegetable is destined for vegetable stock. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and turnips will make for a gummy, cloudy vegetable stock. Strongly flavored vegetables, like cabbage, beets and broccoli, can overpower their aromatic counterparts. Zucchini and greens beans become bitter when slowly simmered.
It’s All in the Balance
A balance of quantity is just as important as a good balance of flavors to create a wholesome, hearty broth. Balance the vegetables you choose proportionately.
Cold Water is a Must
By starting with cold water and slowly increasing the heat, you can be sure that all the flavors have had a chance to be extracted at their preferred temperature.
No Salt Added
Don't add any salt to a stock. Stocks are the fundamental base for so many delicious dishes. The time to add salt is when the stock is being used in your recipes. Salt your recipe, not the stock.
Why no salt? When a soup simmers, its flavors concentrate as water evaporates. It is easy for the stock to become too salty if you add salt to taste before concentrating the broth (cooking it down). Once that happens, there is no chance of return.
Two Ways to Add More Flavor
Two ways to add more flavor to your broth is to roast the vegetables beforehand or to let them sweat (start to soften and release their liquids) for a few minutes over the heat before adding water.
2 large onions (yellow, Spanish, or Vidalia)
1 large bunch leeks
4 large carrots
6 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 extra-large bunch flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste, optional
2 teaspoons soy sauce, optional
Roughly Chop All the Vegetables: Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables and give them a rough chop. Throw all the vegetables, herbs, and tomato paste in a pot big enough to hold them plus a few extra inches of water.
Cover with Water and Simmer: Cover the vegetables with enough water that you can easily stir them in the pot. Less water means that your stock will be more concentrated; more water makes a lighter-flavored stock. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring it to just under a boil. Once you start to see some bubbling around the edges of the pot and a few wisps of steam on the surface, turn the heat down to medium-low.
Cook for 3 Hours: The first hour will extract all the flavor from the vegetables and herbs. The 2 hours following will slowly develop a concentrated flavor. Give the stock a stir every now and then to circulate the vegetables.
Strain and Store: Take the pot off the stove and remove all the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Set your strainer over a big bowl and line it with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Pour the stock through. Divide the stock into storage containers, cool completely, and then freeze.
Freeze and Store: Store this stock in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze for up to 3 months.
*For a more neutral flavored stock, skip the tomato paste and soy sauce.