Vegetable stock is the perfect base for all kinds of soups, stews, sauces, and risottos, so it’s great to always have some on hand, especially during the winter months. While bouillon cubes and other dehydrated forms of broth can be really handy, they are usually extremely salty. If you have found a brand of bouillon cubes that you love – great! If you are not quite happy with the store-bought options, why not make your own stock?
Cooking your own vegetable broth has many advantages, here are just a few.
You know exactly what goes into the stock, so you can chose the ingredients to suit your taste or account for any food allergies or dietary restrictions and preferences.
You have complete control over the salt contents, which is perfect if you need to watch your sodium intake and also makes the broth more versatile. For example, if you reduce stock to make a sauce or when cooking a risotto, it will get saltier and saltier the more water evaporates, so if you start out with a very salty broth, you don’t really have anywhere to go.
It’s a great use of leftover vegetables and even kitchen scraps. If you don’t want to buy vegetables specifically for making stock, simply use scraps. Trimmings, stems, and skins from asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, scallions, zucchini, etc., are all great, just make sure nothing is moldy or rotten. You can even freeze small portions of scraps and trimmings in an airtight container until you have enough to make a batch of vegetable broth.
You can easily freeze it for up to three months. If you plan on using the stock primarily for sauces, freeze it in small portions (e.g., in an ice cube tray, then transfer the stock cubes to a zipper-lock freezer bag). If you want to use it for soups, freeze it in quart-size freezer bags. If you freeze it flat, it won’t take up much space in the freezer and will also thaw really quickly.
You can simply add all your vegetables to a large pot, cover them with water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for at least an hour (longer, if you prefer a more intense flavor). You can also toss the vegetables and/or scraps with some olive oil and garlic, roast them in the oven until slightly caramelized before adding them to the water.
The possibilities are endless.
If you don’t know where to start, here is a basic recipe to give you some ideas. This was a pretty large batch, and I like my vegetable stock really strong, so feel free to play with the amounts.
You will need:
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 leeks
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 parsnips
- 4 carrots
- 1 celery root
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- whole peppercorns (optional)
- salt to taste
- herbs to taste (optional)
- 6 quarts (about 5.7 liters) water
- Thoroughly wash the vegetables. Remove the stems from the tomatoes. Cut all vegetables into large chunks. (Do not peel the onions, the skin will give the broth a nice rich color.) Crush the garlic cloves.
- Add all vegetables, the bay leaves, and whole peppercorns to a large stock pot and cover with about 6 quarts of cold water.
- Bring to a boil and let simmer on medium heat. After one hours, start tasting the stock at regular intervals and let it simmer until it has reached the desired flavor intensity (I let mine simmer for about 2.5 hours).
- Let the stock cool completely and strain it through a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth. Discard (or compost) the solids.
- Add salt to taste.
- Fill the stock into clean jars or airtight containers. Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.