The leaves are turing gold, the breeze brings a chill with it, and every business you know of is hawking something pumpkin spice flavored.
Does that mean it’s fall? Psshhh. It’s SOUP SEASON.
For a whopping zero extra dollars, you too can create this secret ingredient that will make your soup stand out: homemade vegetable stock. Once you know how to make veggie stock, you’ll never go back to the cans or cubes again.
How to Make Vegetable Stock
Grab a large, freezer-safe resealable container or freezer bag. Every time you cook, put the unused bits in this container and store in the freezer. Don’t neglect the aromatics! Onion and garlic bits (including the papery skins) can all go in the freezer to await their soupy destiny. Broccoli start to turn brown before you steamed it? Into the freezer. Spinach wilted? Into the freezer. Eggplant melting on your counter? Chop off the icky parts and toss the rest in the freezer. Odds, ends, stems, peels, wilted leaves and browned crowns are all welcome. Save your refuse veggies over the course of a few weeks, or however long it takes you to fill up a gallon freezer bag.
There’s one type of vegetable that can really change the body of your stock: potatoes. Potatoes release a lot of starch when cooking, so it will impart that starchiness into your stock. For a regular broth soup, this isn’t ideal. But if you’re looking to make a pilaf or risotto, it’s perfect! It’s even great in cream soups, with lentils, or to make gravy. However, if you’re looking to make a noodle soup, minestrone, or a thinner variety of warming goodness, you may want to leave out the potatoes.
In a stock pot, add your frozen veggie bits and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat until the liquid is just simmering. Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes. The vegetables will look wilted and the liquid will have turned a rich golden brown (color will vary depending on the type of vegetables, of course).
Remove the solid vegetables with a slotted spoon or by pouring stock through a colander into a large bowl. Then, strain the stock through a wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. You can use the flour sack towel included in each Culinarie Kit if you don’t have cheesecloth on hand!
How to Store Homemade Vegetable Stock
If you don’t plan to use all of your stock at once, let it cool to room temperature and freeze it. An age-old trick is to pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, and then store the frozen stock cubes in a bag or container in the freezer for easy portioning.
It’s not just for soups, either! When making rice, couscous, or boiling potatoes, drop a cube or two of your veggie stock into the boiling water for extra flavor. Melt some down, add salt, and make a roux to make a hearty and flavorful vegetarian gravy.
Fresh Veggie Stock Just Makes Food Better
Once you taste the difference in veggie stock from fresh vegetables, it will beat any bouillon or store-bought broth. Your soups and stews will have new life, bolder flavors, and deeper colors. ‘Tis the season to start saving those veggie scraps!
Don’t forget to let us know what you create with your own perfect blend of vegetable stock in the comments or in our Culinarie Cooks Facebook group!