Full-Flavored Vegetable Stock

Full-Flavored Vegetable Stock

It’s almost too simple: Just throw everything in a pot and go do something else.
TIME 1 to 2½ hours, mostly unattended
MAKES About 3 quarts
¼ cup soy sauce
2 large onions (don’t bother to peel), cut in half
4 large carrots (don’t bother to peel), cut into large pieces
4 large celery stalks, cut into large pieces
1 large potato, cut into chunks
6 garlic cloves (don’t bother to peel)
15 button mushrooms
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use one 28-ounce can; don’t bother to drain)
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh parsley, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Put the soy sauce and all of the vegetables, the bay leaves, and the parsley if you’re using it in a stockpot with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add 1 gallon (16 cups) water and turn the heat to high. Bring just to a boil and then lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily.

2 Cook, undisturbed, until the all the vegetables are very tender, at least 30 minutes. To develop more intense flavors, let the stock cook for up to 2 hours; check on it once in a while to make sure it’s still bubbling gently.

3 When the stock is done, turn off the heat and let it cool slightly, then put a strainer or colander over a large pot and carefully pour in the stock; press down on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible from them. Sprinkle the stock with a little salt and pepper and discard the vegetables. Use the stock immediately or refrigerate it for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

  • Once you have vegetable stock, you can use it instead of water in any of the soups or stews in this chapter, and you won’t believe how much flavor it adds. Even a 15-minute vegetable stock—an onion, a carrot, a stalk of celery, and a bay leaf, simmered together—is better than the packaged stuff.
  • Onion, garlic, and potato skins contribute to the flavor of the stock, so leave them on; you’ll strain them out later. Rinse or scrub them to remove dirt first—that’s all.
  • Other vegetables you can add to the pot: sweet potatoes, peeled and seeded winter squash, zucchini, parsnips, and ½ cup dried tomatoes or mushrooms.
  • Vegetables you shouldn’t add to the pot: Eggplant and bell peppers will make the stock bitter. Add strong-tasting vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, greens, beets (which will also color the stock), or rutabagas only if you want the soup to taste like them.

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