The People's Reciplex

Vegetable Stock

This is a very loose recipe for basic stock. It comes from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”, which over the last 5 years or so has proved itself well worth the hefty price of the book (anyone who ever wants to cook a vegetable should buy this book).
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 celery ribs
1 bunch scallions, including half of the greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 parsley branches
6 thyme sprigs or 1/2 tsp. dried
2 bay leaves
Whatever other vegetables or trimmings you have on hand
Scrub the vegetables and chop them roughly into 1-inch chunks. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the vegetables, garlic and herbs and cook over high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. The more color they get, the more flavor of the stock. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 2 quarts cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain.
I learned recently of a good trick for storing up good vegetable parts and trimmings for making stock. Keep a tupperwware container in your freezer for any good parts of vegetables you’d otherwise toss, and use them up whenever you want to make vegetable stock. Most of us in the city can’t compost, for fear of offending the neighbors with the smell or attracting vermin, but this is a good way to at least get some use out of vegetable stuff you’d otherwise throw away.
I make vegetable stock all the time and have probably never followed the recipe exactly. You shouldn’t have to go grocery shopping to make vegetable stock if you have a relatively well-stocked kitchen. I rarely have celery in my fridge, and only occasionally have parsley. However, I pretty much always have onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, bay leaves and dried thyme, and I use these plus whatever is sitting around the kitchen.
The odds and ends of any other vegetables you will use for cooking are always good to add – stems and seeds and peels, (most of them anyway, see list of things to avoid below) things you won’t actually eat are good additions. For example, when red bell peppers are $2.99 a pound, don’t buy one for your stock, even though they add great flavor – if you’re using one for something else anyway, though, save whatever parts you’d throw away – seeds, ribs, etc., and add them to the stock. Same with the tough ends of asparagus, squash seeds and peels, the butt ends of zuchinni, corn cobs, pea pods, leek leaves, etc. You can even add the rinds of parmesan cheese.
While you can certainly use vegetables and parts of them you wouldn’t necessarily eat, (like corn cobs) vegetable stock isn’t a catch-all for the stuff in your crisper that really should be thrown out. Use those mushrooms that are no longer so fresh you’d put them in a salad, but don’t use them if they smell funky. You get the idea.
There are just a few ingredients you should avoid when making stocks: members of the cabbage family, like brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage of course. Also, turnips, rutabagas, beets (unless you’re making beet soup). Don’t use tiny celery seeds, powdered herbs, ground pepper, because they can make stock bitter. Avoid onion skins, artichoke trimmings, excessive amounts of greens, and of course anything funky or spoiled.
You can make a richer or darker stock (perhaps to sub for beef broth) by browning chopped onions in oil before adding the rest of the vegetables and liquid, by adding mushrooms to the stock (especially dried ones), and/or adding 1 tablespoon or more to taste of soy sauce to the finished stock.
Stock freezes well for later use. If you want to make a really big batch sometime, once the stock is finished and strained, put it back in the pot and simmer it until it is reduced by half or more. You can freeze the reduced stock in airtight containers or ziplock bags in 1-cup (or other) amounts to have on hand. Just thaw and add back some water and you won’t need to resort to buying (frequently bad and almost always overpriced) canned broth.

Posted by:

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 9th, 2003 at 7:30 pm and is filed under soups.

Leave a Reply