I haven’t always been someone who makes their own stock. Truth be told, if I was making something that had vegetable stock as an ingredient, more often than not I would substitute with water. All of the canned or boxed vegetable stocks that I had ever tried always had some weird off-flavors: tinny, bitter, or just plain strange. Water seemed like a far better choice.
A few years ago I made a recipe for a chicken pot pie that sort of had you make your own chicken stock. The real intent of the recipe was to cook the chicken that was going to go in the pot pie and also create a base for the gravy. However, a side benefit was a bunch of extra chicken stock that I froze for later.
That chicken stock (and the pot pie) was great, but it was also kind of a pain to make. For a couple years I tried making that pot pie (and resulting extra stock) at the beginning of the fall so I would have some homemade stock on hand throughout the soup season. Then last year it seemed like too much hassle and I made due with the canned variety (for chicken stock) or subbed in water (for vegetable stock).
Then a few fortuitous events happened that turned me on to making vegetable stock. In August I went to the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival in Canandaigua. They had cooking with wine demonstrations (which of course intrigued me) so I went to the one about risotto. Someone asked the chef what type of stock he usually used for risotto and he told us in an off-hand way how professional kitchens make their own vegetable stock. He said it was easy: 2 parts onions (leave the skins on for a golden color), 1 part celery and 1 part carrot. Cover with water and simmer for 45 minutes. That’s it.
That casual description really stuck with me. So when our CSA included a bunch of onions, carrots and celery (more than we could reasonably eat) I figured it was time to try my hand at homemade vegetable stock.
So good. And so simple. Way easier than chicken stock (no trying to skim off fat or dealing with raw chicken), and more versatile too. I wrote out the full instructions below–including how to freeze it for later. I plan to post another recipe later this week that uses this stock as a base–check back later for that.
How To Make Vegetable Stock
2 pounds onions
1 pound carrots
1 pound celery
Equipment: your 2 largest pots (my largest holds 16 quarts & my second-largest holds12 quarts); If you want to freeze it you will also need liquid measuring cups, freezer safe ziplock bags & baking sheets
Scrub all of the ingredients very well with a stiff brush under running water to get rid of any dirt. Trim off the root ends of the onions. DO NOT REMOVE PEELS. Cut into quarters (eighths if the onions are really big). Roughly chop the celery (do not discard the leaves) and carrots (no need to peel).
Throw the chopped onions, carrots, and celery (including their leaves if they have any) into your largest pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by about 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.
Place a strainer over your second-largest pot. Pour the vegetable stock through the strainer. Discard (or compost) the vegetable bits.
How to freeze:
Let the stock cool for a bit. Place a plastic zip lock bag inside a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (see photo above). Use another measuring cup to pour 2 cups of stock into the bag. Carefully squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Lay flat on a baking sheet. Repeat until you are out of stock. (Make sure you only put one layer of bags on a baking sheet). Place the baking sheets in a freezer. When the bags are frozen you can take them off the baking sheets and place in large ziplock bags to store.
Makes: Approximately about 26 cups of stock
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus time to freeze (optional)
Notes: You can scale the recipe up or down depending on how much you want to make–the only limit is the size of your largest pot! Resist the urge to throw in other veggie scraps, herbs or seasoning (salt & pepper). This stock is a nice blank canvas for future recipes to build on, not a soup in itself.