Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 2 tbsp. neutral-flavored oil (canola, sunflower, or light olive oil) or butter
- 6 c aromatic vegetables (a combination of carrots, onions, garlic, celery, celeriac, leeks, parsnips, scallions)
- 4 c other vegetable trimmings (including chard stems, rutabaga, potato peels, zucchini, yellow squash, bean sprouts)
- herbs (several sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf, and any of thyme, marjoram, oregano, chervil)
- 10 black peppercorns
- 4 quarts water
- salt to taste
- Prepare aromatic vegetables by peeling garlic and chopping all vegetables into coarse pieces, about one to one-and-a-half inches. (You don't need to peel vegetables for stock, but you do need to wash them.) Prepare vegetable trimmings by washing them and cutting them into one-and-a-half-inch pieces. If you have cheesecloth on hand, tie herbs and peppercorns together into a bouquet garni.
- In a large, heavy stockpot, heat oil or butter over medium heat until oil is hot or butter is foaming. Add the aromatic vegetables and stir well to coat, then reduce heat to very low and cook vegetables, stirring frequently, for a few minutes.
- Add water and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add mild vegetables and raise heat to medium-low. Bring stock slowly to a boil. Add herbs and simmer. Simmer stock until you have about eight cups of liquid.
- Strain stock through a strainer, mashing vegetables with the back of a spoon. Salt the finished stock to taste, keeping in mind that if you intend to use the finished stock in another recipe, you should use somewhat less salt than if you want to use the stock as a soup on its own.
Other Suggested Ingredients:
The ingredients listed above are just suggestions. Any vegetable you like the flavor of is fair game for vegetable stock. Keep in mind, though, that mushroom gills will turn stock black (portobello mushrooms have a greater proportion of gills than other mushrooms) and that beets and tomatoes will turn stock red or pink.
I've also avoided vegetables like peppers, turnips, and brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, and related vegetables) that have particularly strong flavors. You're certainly welcome to add them, and if you're planning on using the stock in a soup where these flavors would blend nicely, it would be a nice touch. To increase the nutritional content of the soup (especially if you have a child who is particular about eating vegetables), consider adding sea vegetables like dulse or kombu.
Storing Vegetable Stock
A pot of lukewarm stock is a great medium for harmful bacteria to grow in, so be aware of food safety and store your stock properly:
- Your hot stock needs to cool as quickly as possible. The USDA cites a "danger zone" of 40°F to 140°F at which foods are at highest risk for bacterial contamination, so the goal is to minimize the amount of time your stock spends in that time zone. For this amount of stock, your two best options are to immediately divide the stock into four smaller containers and chill it in the refrigerator, or to fill your sink or another large container like a washtub or bathtub with ice water and surround the stockpot with ice water until the stock has chilled to about 40°. (The reason to not simply put the entire pot in the refrigerator is that the stock will take too long to cool, and it may heat up the items around it to boot).
- You can safely store stock in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Vegetable stock lasts for about a week in the refrigerator, or for about two months when frozen. Consider freezing some vegetable stock in very small containers or ice cube trays for use in recipes.