I love making soup, especially in the winter. But to make a soup with lots of flavour, I like to make sure that I have a good hearty homemade stock in my freezer. Homemade stock to me is the best: it’s fresh tasting, you have complete control over the flavours as well as seasoning, especially the salt and it’s quick and inexpensive to make. Store bought stock has way too much sodium and too little flavour. The best stock to make, in my opinion, is vegetable stock. I stopped making chicken stock a few years ago. I find it too strong, too oily, too overpowering. So now I only make vegetable stock.
Vegetable stocks are super fast and easy to make. You can use any mild flavoured vegetable but the main ingredients that I use are carrots, onions, celery and a few herbs. And I bet most people have those ingredients in your pantry/refrigerator most of the time. You could also use tomatoes, leeks, and mushrooms. Try to use the same amount of each vegetable so that the stock has a balanced flavour. Add some fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil or thyme to brighten the flavour profile of your stock. I don’t add any salt or pepper to the stock as I prefer to add seasoning to the final dish.
This recipe is the one I use time and time again whenever I make a batch of homemade soup – even if the soup has beef or chicken in it, I still use a vegetable stock. This is the stock I use when I make Lemon Ginger Carrot Soup or Cheddar Cheese and Apple Cider Soup.
Vegetable Stock is super easy to make yourself. You can make a quick batch of stock with ingredients that you most likely have on hand. Here is a list of tips when making homemade vegetable stock:
- use mild flavoured vegetables such as onions, leeks, scallions, carrots, celery
- you can also use tomatoes, mushrooms or fennel
- do not use rutabaga, potato or sweet potato as it will create a gummy texture
- you can add in some mild herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil or parsley
- do not use garlic unless you are making the stock for a specific recipe (or enjoy garlic in all your soups)
- you can scrub the vegetables to remove any loose dirt, but do not need to peel (unless you would like to)
- you can roast the vegetables in the oven for a deeper and more flavorsome stock, or brown in a pan until golden
- simmer the vegetables in a small amount of water (just covering the vegetables) for a deep, rich flavour
- simmer for anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour. Whatever suits your schedule.
Brown the vegetables before simmering them in water until they have some good colour on them, as in the photo above. Browning the vegetables gives the stock a richer flavour and colour. However, if you are short on time, you can leave out this step. Just dump the prepped vegetables into a pot, add some water and simmer for 20 minutes to one hour, depending on your schedule.
After you are done simmering, strain the vegetables into another pot. Let the broth cool down to room temperature. This may take 1-2 hours. Then ladle into containers. Label the containers with the name and date. If you are storing your stock in the refrigerator, use within a couple of days.
Soup stock also freezes really well. I usually freeze my stock in various sized containers: a 3-cup container for soup, as well as a couple of 1/2 to 1 cup containers to add to sauces. You can also freeze some in ice cube trays if you want smaller amounts. If you freeze any in ice cube trays, once the stock is frozen, place the little frozen cubes of vegetable stock in a ziplock bag (remember to label the bag – I have found many unlabelled items in my freezer and had no idea what they were or how long they had been there). Use the frozen stock within 3 months.
You’re going to love this one! Let me know what soups you make with this stock!
Readings to inspire you to make your own stock:
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, washed and chopped
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 parsley branches
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 thyme sprigs
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add all the vegetables and herbs.
Saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. The more colour that the vegetables get, the more flavour the stock will have.
Once they are all nicely coloured, add 2 litres of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, with the lid half on, for about 30 minutes.
Strain out the vegetables. Let the stock cool.
Pour into freezable containers. Label the containers with the name and the date.
If you will be using the stock within a couple days, store in the refrigerator. Otherwise place in freezer for up to 3 months.
Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.