It seems like every time we go grocery shopping we have to toss out a few leftover vegetables that have started to go limp after two weeks in the fridge. Not much, just a few stalks of celery, a handful of baby carrots. Maybe a little parsley.
It also seems like an awful waste to toss our those vegetables. What could we do with them? Well we often have a need to buy stock for various dishes especially soups. So it seems like there might be a great opportunity here.
Why not make vegetable stock from them? In fact, the more I investigated the idea the more frugal and practical it seems. Because even the trimmings from vegetables used during the week can be used. The stems of various herbs, the root end of an onion and other trimmings from an onion, etc. can all be put into baggies and frozen until enough accumulates to make stock.
The options seem endless. One recommendation I did see, though, is to be careful to keep the flavor of the stock fairly neutral flavor. As some recipes may not combine well with a strongly spiced stock. For instance, you may not want a lot of garlic in a stock you might want to use in soup. However, another dish might benefit from such a stock. Well it is easy enough to add it, but you can’t take it away once it is there.
So below is a simple neutral recipe:
1 to 2 onions
2 to 3 carrots
3 to 4 celery stalks
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch parsley
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
Optional Extras: fennel, tomatoes, mushrooms, mushroom stems
Clean and roughly chop all the vegetables. You don’t even really need to peel them not even the onions. Some folks like the color that a yellow onion contributes to the stock.
Put all the vegetables in a large enough pot to cover them plus a few extra inches of water.
Cover the vegetables with enough water to easily stir them. Bring the pot to a simmer over medium-high heat (just under a boil). Once the pot starts bubbling around the edges reduce the heat to medium-low.
Cook for about an hour.
Finally, strain out the vegetables and store the stock.
Try roasting the vegetables to add more flavor to the broth (Roast until the vegetables are tender enough to pierce with a fork and you see some charred bits on the edges. Softer vegetables cook more quickly, while harder vegetables will cook more slowly.)
Sweating the vegetables first will help release extra flavor too. (The goal is to soften the vegetables without browning them. Sweat the vegetables over a medium heat using a little oil. Look for the vegetables to start glistening and softening around the edges. Then add to the stock pan.)
Vegetable stock can be kept frozen for up to about 4-6 months