There's many reasons to keep vegetable stock on hand at all times. When cooking without oil, vegetable stock is great for sautéing and adds flavor. It’s also great for almost any soup and is a flavorful addition to sauces or purées that are thicker than you desire.
Now, this is a very basic recipe which leads itself to some interpretation but, I promise if you stick with this basic formula, you can't go wrong. You'll notice the recipe doesn't call for veggie scraps or ends. Use the whole veggies to lend the most flavor. I take pride in a good veggie stock -- it’s an integral ingredient and flavor agent for a variety of different foods. It should be as good an ingredient as any other. Take care in your stock.
Erik’s Basic Vegetable Stock Recipe
- 2 parts prepped white onion
- 1 part prepped carrots
- 1 part prepped celery
- 1 whole unpeeled head of garlic (not clove, head)
- Fresh herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf, parsley (any or all)
- Spices: whole black peppercorns, red pepper flakes and salt (any or all)
1. Prep onions.
Cut off both ends and peel. No skins in the stock. They’re dirty and bitter. Cut in half through the center then cut each half into thirds. These are going to be somewhat large pieces so they don’t boil down to mushy blah-ness during the cooking process.
2. Prep carrots.
Peel, then cut off tops. Cut in half length wise, then lay cut side down and slice on a bias into ½ inch slices (bias is a slice on a 45 degree angle). Take a carrot that looks like this >>======> and cut into this >> / == / == / =>
3. Prep celery.
Cut off the root end. It’s dirty and bitter. Use the bright green stalks on the outside of the bunch for stock. Now I'm not saying trash the leaves and light green stalks in the middle -- these are much better used in other preparations where heat is not involved (middle pieces have more intense in flavor; the leaves taste great in mock tuna and chicken salads; and they get bitter when you cook them). Back to the green stuff… cut celery on a bias as well, just like the carrots.
Why the bias cut you ask? Well when you cut on a bias you create more surface area than cutting straight across the vegetable which helps to extract the most flavor.
4. Prep garlic (heads up, geography lesson coming at ya).
Identify the root end of the garlic as Antarctica and the bunched up end as the North Pole. Then slice the garlic in half through the equator. No need to peel the papery skin.
When it comes to garlic in my stocks, I usually use 1 head for every 3 onions. If you use 6 onions, use 2 heads of garlic.
5. Prep herbs and spices.
I usually add herbs whole with the stems. Add 2-3 bay leaves and 4-5 sprigs of each herb per every 3 onions (If you haven’t noticed yet, I pretty much base this entire recipe off of how many onions I have). I use about 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns and 2 pinches of crushed red pepper per 3 onions.
6. Get cookin'.
Find a large enough pot to hold all of the ingredients plus enough water to cover them by about 3 to 4 inches. Start the pot over medium high heat with about a centimeter of water. When the water starts to boil add all of your vegetables, including garlic, but not the herbs and spices. Then, salt well (about 1 tablespoon). The addition of salt at this stage helps pull out the moisture in the vegetables, kind of steam themselves and keeping from browning or caramelizing. Cook over medium heat, stirring every once and awhile until the onions become translucent. Once translucent, add herbs and spices and stir for a minute or two.
Now add water. Cold water. The colder the better, seriously. Add enough water so the vegetables are covered by 3-4 inches. The strength and flavor of your stock is completely dependent on the amount of water you add here. More water = less flavor. Turn the heat to high and bring your broth to a boil. As soon as it starts to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer for 40 minutes tops, no longer (if you cook veggies for too long they start to break down too much and it brings out an almost decomposing flavor like old cut grass or dead leaves).
Cold water interrupts and then restarts the cooking process, bringing out more flavor in the veggies.
7. Strain stock.
Once 40 minutes is up, strain the stock carefully through the finest strainer you have and then your done. Presto. Beautiful, flavorful, golden vegetable stock. Store in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays for easy access later.
Peace, love and vegetables,
P.S. I'd really appreciate your feedback. Please answer below and share your thoughts.