An aromatic vegetable stock is the basis of many dishes – you will need it for soups, sauces and risotto. Homemade, it tastes so good that with a few noodles or another ingredient (for example, finely chopped carrots, peas, pancake stripes), but also by itself it makes a wonderfully warming dish. One thing is clear: such a stock is so much better in taste than any ready-made product that it is always worth preparing it yourself. Plus: you can use practically all leftover vegetables and vegetable waste that accumulates in the kitchen. Everything, even what is no longer picture perfect, can be used. Here we took, among other things, half a dried out celeriac, some wilted parsley leaves, a few limp carrots and other leftovers. Of course, you can also use peels (e.g. of carrots or onions) and stalks (of mushrooms, zucchini or celery). Only vegetables that have little flavor of their own and that contain a lot of starch (e.g. potatoes) are not suited.
You really only need to throw away parts of vegetables that are rotten or moldy. Everything else can still be cooked into a vegetable stock.
You are also free in using herbs and spices. It always tastes great when you cook herbs with the stock, like thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, bay leaves, lovage etc. Not recomended are sage leaves (too bitter). Dried mushrooms are also wonderful for a deep, earthy flavor, again quite different from fresh mushrooms – that’s why we use both today: dried and fresh mushrooms.
If you like Asian flavours, you can add ginger, cinnamon sticks and star anise, as we did here. With ginger, you never know how much heat it will give off. So we add it with the other spices in a spice ball that we can easily remove at any time. If you do not have such a ball, you can also use a tea bag.
Very important: a stock must never be salted before it is completely cooked. The salt in the water prevents the other ingredients from releasing their flavour.
Onions are an important basic ingredient for vegetable stock. Chop them into coarse pieces together with the peel and roast them dry, i.e. without fat, until they are somewhat browned. Onion peel colors the soup golden – in the past it was also used to dye cloth or Easter eggs yellow.
You only have to wash the vegetables and cut them into coarse pieces. Forget about all the tedious peeling or cutting work this time – it is not necessary for vegetable stock.
You may now also roast the vegetables from all sides. You can continue to do this without fat or use one to two tablespoons of olive oil, as you like. The roasting aromas that form during this process are important for the flavour of the broth.
Now fill the pot with plenty of water. When we cook stock, we use a large 5-liter pot. You can now also add the spices.
Vegetable stocks do not need as long as meat broths to become really aromatic. If you let everything simmer gently for about two hours, that should be quite enough. You do not have to obey exact timings. Instead, it is worthwhile to taste the stock from time to time and to remove the spices if their aroma gets too intense.
When you are satisfied with the result, drain the broth through a sieve. With a ladle you can squeeze out every last bit of taste. When you try the broth, you will notice how much flavor has been created only by the vegetables. The broth will already taste round, aromatic and deep. Only now you should add salt to taste. If you do not want to use the stock immediately as a soup, however, we recommend being cautious with the salt. For many dishes, you rather need the vegetable flavour than the salt, which you can add to the finished dish later as well. As an alternative to salt, you may also season only with soy sauce. Yeast flakes can also be a good alternative.
You can store the stock for a few days in the refrigerator. Frozen it keeps much longer. A good idea is to put it in ice cube trays. The cubes are good to portion out if you only need smaller amounts of stock.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for 2.5 liters):
3.5 liters of water
2-3 vegetable onions
approx. 1 kg vegetables of your choice
(e.g. carrots, leek, celery, fennel, mushrooms, …)
herbs (e.g. parsley, oregano, thyme)
2-3 bay leaves
ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks for Asian flavours (optional)
salt to taste (alternative: soy sauce or yeast flakes)