DIY Veggie Stock
It’s wintertime. I don’t know about you, but I’m making a lot of soup these days in an effort to stay warm. Since most soups call for stock or broth (I use veggie), let’s take a look at how you can make your own, which can save money and help get the most out of the food you are already eating!
Benefits of making your own stock
Soup stock seems like it should be a really clean product to purchase at the store, but a lot of store-bought stocks have extra ingredients to make them shelf-stable or to create alluring colors in their product. Store-bought stocks are great in a pinch, but you’ll be better off in the long run if you learn how to make your own stock.
The best part of making your own stock is that you can customize it to your tastes. Love parsley but hate cilantro? Then add parsley stems, but skip the cilantro. Love extra onion flavor? Add extra scraps of leeks, scallions, shallots and onion to your pot. Want a little sweetness? Add fennel or corn cobs. The variations are endless and exciting!
Another benefit? It’s super easy to make your own - so easy, you’re going to start wondering why you have never done this before!
What veggie scraps are best?
The ends of onions and garlic, the stems of herbs like parsley and cilantro, cut off ends of celery, carrots, mushrooms, and peppers, and leeks and scallions all make great additions. Peelings from potatoes, squash, eggplant, and parsnips are also great to use in stock. I have also had great success using the scraps of fennel in my stock (so good!) and you could easily throw corn cobs or asparagus stalks in there as well. Every ingredient will lend its own unique flavor to the brew.
However, I’ve had bad luck with the stalks from broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, or cabbage. These brassica veggies are not best for stock because they make the stock bitter and overpower the flavor of the stock. It’s best to leave those out of stock and just add them when you are making soup.
What about salt?
A tasty stock should have a good balance between flavor and saltiness. However, most store-bought stocks contain excessive amounts of salt. When you make your own stock, you have total control of the salt situation! Careful, though - before you add any salt, taste your stock as it simmers. Some of your veggies (notably celery) are rich in natural salts that will be released in the cooking process, so you may not need to add any salt at all.
Storing veggie scraps
I have a freezer bag that is devoted to veggie scraps, and I take it out every time I’m prepping meals. I add the ends of onions and garlic, stems of parsley, cilantro or other herbs, stalks of mushrooms (among many others) to a freezer bag and seal it up. I store it in the freezer until I am ready to make stock. Storing scraps in the fridge is fine, but only if you intend to make stock within the week. I try to collect about 4 cups of scraps so I can double this recipe and then freeze some of the stock unless I know I am going to use it right away. The best part is that I can keep adding a variety of veggies to this bag until I am ready to make stock. Since I often vary the veggies I use, no two batches are exactly the same...but all are delicious!
Ready to make your own? Use this recipe as a guide to get you started and feel free to experiment along the way as you compose each batch. You will find that you prefer some flavors over others, so just adjust according to your tastes. Have fun in your kitchen and I can’t wait to see your creations -- don’t forget to tag @karenscolorfulkitchen on Instagram!
Makes 8 cups
1 TBSP coconut or olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 c veggie scraps (no need to thaw, just throw them in frozen!)
Stems of one bunch parsley (optional)
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
8 cups filtered water
Sea salt to taste (optional)
In a large stockpot, heat oil and saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, carrots and celery and saute for about 5 minutes. Add veggie scraps and parsley and thyme (if using) and continue to cook until mixture is heated through. Add water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer slowly for about 45 minutes. Be sure to taste-test while simmering, and make flavor adjustments as you see fit!
TIP: Freeze any that you aren’t using this week in 16 oz mason jars to have on hand for future soup recipes.