Thursday, January 17, 2013

Home-made, from-scratch, vegetable stock

Soup #2 took a lot of thought in the middle of a busy week. Between working and sleeping and visiting family and running errands, even though I finally chose a soup, I wasn’t able to actually start cooking it until Saturday afternoon, before work. This meant that Saturday, while E was already off at work, I would sleep in as long as possible before getting up and starting my day (since I have to be up all night at work).  I decided to give myself a few extra hits of the snooze button (OK, a lot more), with the rationale that if I started to soup too soon, it would be done way too early, and I would have to reheat it, and that would just be more work.
Boy was I wrong.
When I finally got up, I had a cup of coffee while going over the recipe. All I needed was vegetable stock (Soup #1 depleted what was left of any of our stock, chicken or veggie). So off to the store I went. Before I got there I realized my wallet was missing. I was pretty certain it had fallen in E’s car the night before, so I wasn’t too worried, but now I was without my money to purchase the stock. So back home I went and called my mom, who of course, reassured me that I could make it from scratch, no problem.
And I did! It was easy as… well broth. So if you’re following along with your own 52 Soup Project, or you just need a how-to on vegetable stock, here’s how I did it. The amount of each vegetable used is up to you and would be determined by the flavors you like most, and how much broth you want to make. I’ve included how much I used for mine.
You will need:
Chopped celery – use the inner, leafy stocks of the celery for your broth, these are the most flavorful parts. Save the outer stocks for eating (with peanut butter). These are wise words from my great-grandmother, passed down by my mom. I used about 6 stocks from the middle.
Carrots – peeled and chopped into rounds. I used 4, and I think I should have used more. I would do 6-8 next time.
Yellow onion – two of them. Chopped, as quickly as possible without hurting yourself so you don’t start to cry.
Garlic – I used about 6 whole cloves, and it could have used a little more.
This is all I used, because this is what I had in my fridge, but you can also use other vegetables that you have in your pantry for other predominant flavors.
Add water to fill the pot up, covering the veggies, about 2-3 inches from the top. Remember, you don’t want it to boil over.
Then add spices to taste. I added a fair amount of salt and ground pepper. A little basil and parsley, and a little garlic powder for an extra kick that I just wasn’t tasting before. Start the pot on medium-high heat until it reaches a boil, then drop the heat to low and allow it to simmer. Honestly, this can be for hours. Put it on and do some laundry, clean the counters, or just go read a good book. I was very pressed for time and only allowed it to cook for about an hour and a half. And it was still good. It wasn’t as flavorful as it could have been, but it was good, and it held its own in soup #2. I think the key is to let it simmer for a good long while.
Once it’s done, you’ll want to strain it over a fine mesh strainer to get just the broth out. You can use the veggies for something else (not sure what though…) or throw them in your compost pile like we did! Vegetable stock is good for a few days in the refrigerator and for up to a few months in the freezer. Be sure to cool it to room temperature before putting it in the fridge or freezer though!

And there you have it! Homemade, from scratch, vegetable stock! 

Do you have any secrets to veggie stock you’d like to share? Please do, we’d love to hear!