Ok let’s just be honest. Brown food isn’t the easiest thing to photograph. My recipe today is vegetable stock, and it’s a short recipe that has limited pictures because stock is that brown, soupy colour that just cannot look appetizing. But the recipe is great and is a fabulous alternative to the stock / broth or dried bullion cubes out there.
When I started cooking, I used to like using the Maggi bouillon cubes to flavor my soups until I looked at the ingredients one day and really noticed the crazy amount of ingredients in that one little cube, many of which I couldn’t pronounce. It also contained MSG as one of the primary ingredients. So that was that. I stopped using it. As for chicken or vegetable stock, it wasn’t really a common item in supermarkets here, and so I started using plain ol’ water. Having water in soup instead of stock really gives the other ingredients a chance to shine, although I did tend to miss the complexity of flavours at times.
A lot of recipes I’ve checked out suggest you toss the vegetables in with the water at the same time and let it simmer. Since I’m a fan of deeper flavors and I absolutely love the smell of carrots, onions and celery being sautéed together, I let that magic happen for about 5 minutes, got my aromatherapy on, and then added the water.
You’ll notice that the vegetables are roughly chopped. Why are they roughly chopped, you ask? The short answer is because I live life on the edge. The long answer is that you want to coax out flavour and you don’t want to cook something so finely chopped that it dissolves after a few minutes.
2 tsp. Olive Oil
3 Onions (roughly chopped)
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks Celery, roughly chopped
2 medium Potatoes, roughly chopped
2 Bay Leaves
2 tsp. whole Black Peppercorns
3/4 tsp salt
10 cups water
Pour Olive oil into a large stock pot. Add onions, carrots & celery and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for approximately an hour. Strain stock. Discard solids.
Use immediately, refrigerate for 3 days or freeze for 6-8 months.
After the stock had cooled, I measured out two cups at a time and filled freezer-friendly bags with the pre-measured portion. Of course you can measure out as much as you want, or store it all in one bag, but don’t blame me when you have to defrost a huge block of ice for half of the stock!
I kind of think that vegetable stock is pretty forgiving. You have a list of vegetables that you can potentially use (some vegetables like tomatoes and beets don’t work at all in stock) and you can mix and match as you’d like. I chose not to use parsnips or mushrooms or sweet potatoes in this mix, but I will be trying different combinations in future batches.
For my blog followers preparing to experience Autumn (or maybe the weather has cooled off significantly already?), now is a great time to embark on this no stress weekend project. You’ll totally jump start your Fall & Winter soup prep work! For my warm weather friends, you know you’ll also make soup at some point. Don’t deny it. This post is still relevant :)