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.
The Graduating Stock Class of September
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.
It ain’t pretty. But it smelled warm and inviting!
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 :)