Basic Vegetable Stock
A great chef once told me that a soup is only as good as the stock. I have found that to be true. While I do keep bouillon cubes around for those harried days when I just don’t have time for stock, whenever possible I make my own. Once the soup season begins, I try to stay ahead of my stock supply by simultaneously making a stock for the next soup each time I make a soup.
Occasionally, I’ll use whole veggies for a soup stock, generally I just use the cuttings or scraps of the veggies, skins and all. Only use fresh scraps for stock, do not use anything that is rotting or molding since the flavor will carry through. Stay away from veggies that impart a strong flavor like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, or mushrooms — unless those ingredients are in the soup itself. For example, cream of broccoli soup might contain broccoli stems in the stock and cream of mushroom would have mushrooms in the stock. Don’t use red beets for stock unless you want it to be very colorful! Gold beets are fine.
- 1-2 onion ends and the skins only
- 4 cloves garlic ends and the skins only
- about 1 c total celery the bulbous part you don't eat and the leaves, chopped coarsely
- 1/2-1 c total carrots tops and tips
- about 2 c total potatoes and other root vegetables: skins and some coarsely chopped root or tubers
- 1 T (optional) salt I usually leave stock salt-free and add what I need to each soup
To make 1 quart of stock Use a combined total of about 4 cups of mixed veggie scraps. Combine all food scraps, very loosely chopped, in to a 2-quart pan with enough water to cover, at least 1-quart plus a cup. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain well. Yep, it’s that easy.
To freeze Let stock cool. Pour into a freezer bag. Remove the air and seal. Label the bag with your stock ingredients. Stores well in the freezer for a year. Some folks like to freeze individual portions in ice cube trays! (Freeze cubes and then store in a freezer bag.)
To can for refrigerator storage Pour hot stock in to a clean mason jar. Lid the jar, and as it cools it will seal. Label the jar with your stock ingredients. Store in the refrigerator. Use within a month.
Labeling tip I label my stock with the most flavorful ingredient in the title. For instance in a mixed-root stock with parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, or beets, I’d likely label it “Rooty” knowing it will impart an earthy undertone to the entire soup. If it were onion, celery, and potato, I’d likely just say onion, or even “light soup.” If there are any mushrooms, I’d label it “mushroom.” I do not recommend storing stock that has broccoli, cabbage, or brussels sprouts as ingredients. I find their flavor does not improve soups.
Cat Buxton, Education Coordinator
photos: CCF staff