Let’s be real, I don’t think anyone is going to get as excited about a recipe for vegetable stock as they would for crack pie, red velvet cake, or even kale chips, but maybe they should. Few things will make as much of a difference to the quality of a dish as homemade vegetable stock.
Now I get that I may have more enthusiasm for the homemade lifestyle than the average person; I realize that it’s not always practical or desirable to make every bit of food from scratch. So I choose to focus on what will give me the most proverbial “bang for my buck”, and this here more than qualifies. For some reason, store-bought vegetable stock always just tastes off in some way; it rarely has the richness and depth of flavor I desire, but hey, if you find a delectable version, please let me know, I’ll willingly eat my words on this one.
Rather than proselytize further on the virtues of stock, I leave you with this, BABY SLOTH BATH TIME.
This is my go to vegetable stock as it packs a lot of flavor without a big time commitment. You can make it in about an hour, though I usually take my time browning the vegetables and simmering so that it gets a bit more flavor. While I frequently use store-bought chicken stock, I haven’t found a prepared vegetable stock that tastes much better than dirty dishwater, so I think it’s absolutely worth the effort of making it at home.
Yield: ≈ 2 quarts
4 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
4 carrots, sliced into coins
2 onions, quartered (don’t bother to peel)
2 medium potatoes, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
4 to 6 cloves garlic (don’t bother to peel)
10 to 20 cremini or white mushrooms sliced or ⅜ oz dried mushrooms
20 to 40 parsley stems or stems with leaves
4 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
If using dried mushrooms, place them in a medium bowl and pour 1 cup boiling water over to reconstitute. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet, stockpot or dutch oven (6+ quart capacity), over medium-high heat. When hot, add the carrots, onions, potatoes, celery, garlic, and mushrooms (if you’re using dried wait to add them later). Let cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, then stir occasionally, and cook til softened and the vegetables are beginning to brown.
Add 8 cups water (or 7 cups + the dried mushrooms and the water they steeped in), parsley, soy sauce, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to keep it at a moderate simmer, and cook for at least 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender; if you have extra time cook for a full 60 minutes as the flavor will be richer.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer, and either use in a recipe or store for later.
Ideally I like to make this in a very large skillet or a dutch oven as there’s a bit more surface area on the bottom than in a stockpot, which makes browning the vegetables more efficient.
Before straining I usually use a spider to remove the big pieces of vegetables from the pot, as this makes it easier to pour through the strainer.
If I’m not going to use all of the stock soon, I like to freeze any extra in well-sealed ziploc bags in 1 cup increments, so that it’s easier to use for a recipe that needs only a small amount of stock.
I don’t add salt to my stock (aside from the soy sauce, which is there primarily for flavor) as I don’t consider it to be a finished product and would rather season the dish I’m using it in to taste.