Vegetable stock (basic recipe)

Homemade vegetable stock is a great ingredient to have on hand for soups, sauces, pilaffs and risotto. It is not difficult to make and once the vegies and water have been brought to the boil it really looks after itself. Avoid using strongly flavoured vegetables in stock such as cabbage, swede, cauliflower and broccoli and herbs like sage, marjoram or tarragon.

You can make a quick version of vegetable stock with half quantities of vegetables and aromatics and simmer for less time, but for an hour at least. It is not essential to use every ingredient in the list just use what you have on hand and your stock is bound to be better than one that is commercially made or made with stock cubes.

Makes about 7 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 brown onions with skin cut into chunks
  • 1 leek, roughly sliced
  • 2 sticks celery with leaves, roughly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 slice pumpkin with skin
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 6 parsley sprigs and stalks
  • 7 peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 strip orange, mandarin or lemon rind
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 litres cold water

Optional ingredients

  • 1 slice ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • fennel
  • mushrooms including stems and/or dried porcini slices
  • Parmesan rind

Method

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables and place in a large saucepan with the aromatics and salt. Pour on the cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer, partly covered for about an hour and a half.
  2. Towards the end of cooking time you can add other vegetable bits and pieces to the pot such as pea pods, peas, sliced zucchini, asparagus ends, spinach stems or fresh herbs such as basil, dill or coriander. Allow them to cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Allow the stock pot to cool somewhat before straining. Transfer the vegetables and liquid, in stages, to a large colander set over a bowl to collect the stock. Press on the vegetables to extract as much juice as you can. Discard the vegetables then as they have given up their goodness and flavour. Strain the stock through a fine sieve or for a clearer stock, strain through muslin or Chux cloth. The vegetable stock will keep for three days in the fridge or three months in the freezer. Freeze in one or two cup containers for convenience.

 

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