This homemade vegetable stock recipe just might blow your mind!
(Today’s post is an update from the archives, originally posted in October of 2010.)
When you’re on a tight budget, you’re always looking for ways to scrimp and save. One of the easiest ways to do this is by making your own soup stock. Not only is it more expensive to buy stock in the store, but it’s also full of sodium and preservatives that make it less healthy and add too much of a salty flavor.
You can save money by making your own homemade vegetable stock, but I have another secret for you to make this homemade vegetable stock recipe even more economical…
SAVE YOUR VEGGIE SCRAPS!
It seems so obvious once you start doing it.
I’ve got a few bags in my freezer full of leftover vegetable scraps. I put in broccoli stems, zucchini cores (from when I don’t want to use the seeds in a recipe) and stems, carrot peels, leek leaves, bell pepper cores, whatever bits of vegetables are clean and in good shape but wouldn’t normally get eaten. Once in a while if I know a vegetable might go bad before I can use it, like I’m getting too many vegetables from the CSA or my garden is overproducing, I toss it in the freezer bag too.
Our country wastes thousands of tons of food each year, and this is one of the many ways we try not to contribute to that waste, and save a little money too.
MAKE VEGETABLE STOCK FROM SCRATCH
Some of you may be wondering, “What is vegetable stock?” From what I understand (I’m no chef though!) stock is technically made with bones, so there is actually only vegetable broth, not stock. But the two terms (stock and broth) have become so interchangeable in the food industry that I’ve always heard it called stock, so I’m sticking with that!
Vegetable stock is the EASIEST stock to make. Although it takes about 40 minutes of cooking time, it’s only a few minutes of prep, especially if you chop your vegetables before putting them in the freezer.
In addition to the scraps I simply add a couple of carrots and potatoes, an onion (I don’t usually have any in my freezer bag), some smashed garlic cloves, fresh thyme and parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Speaking of salt, you can totally use more than my recipe calls for. I like to keep the flavor less salty because then I have more control over the saltiness when I use it in a future recipe. Basically I want my stock to taste lightly of vegetables, not a salt lick!
EASY HOMEMADE VEGETABLE STOCK RECIPE
Some people simply cover their vegetables with water and boil them immediately. I prefer to start by cooking them in a tablespoon of olive oil because I think a little caramelization is important for the flavor of the stock.
It’s not really precooking the vegetables, I just heat the oil in the pot and then start stirring the vegetables around to coat them in the oil and let them get a little golden in spots.
I also like having a hint of olive oil in the stock. If I’m making chicken or beef stock, they have fats from the animal, but that doesn’t happen naturally with vegetables.
Although I start out with 10 cups of water, I end up with about 8 cups of stock because of evaporation. You could keep the lid on to get a greater yield, but I think having it cook down some intensifies the flavor. I’ve tried it both ways and prefer it without a lid.
Once your stock is done you want to strain all the solids out (Eric calls this vegetable mush). I use a mesh strainer and if I really want a clearer stock strain it a second time through a coffee filter or paper towel.
Make sure to store the stock in containers labeled with the amount. You can stick it in the freezer and then know exactly how many containers to defrost for your recipe instead of having to defrost a large batch you’ll only use half of.
This week we’ll be using some of this stock to make butternut squash soup in the Healthy Cooking on a Tight Budget Program. What do you use vegetable stock for? Have you ever made your own?
KITCHEN TOOLS (thanks for supporting this site!):
- 2 carrots washed
- 1 onion peeled
- 2 potatoes washed
- Greens from 2 leeks can be frozen
- 2-4 cups of various vegetable scraps can be frozen
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 8 cloves of garlic smashed
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 4 sprigs of parsley
- 2 leaves bay
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns I used combination of white and black
- 10 cups of water
- Make sure all of your vegetables are clean and cut into chunks no bigger than 2 inches in diameter.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot on high.
- When the oil begins to shimmer, add garlic, herbs, and seasonings.
- Immediately add all the vegetables and stir to distribute oil.
- Stir every 30 seconds for about 5 minutes until some caramelization has formed on the vegetables.
- Add the water, making sure it's enough to cover the vegetables (if not add a little more).
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Pour stock through a strainer, discarding the vegetable mush.
- If a clearer stock is desired, strain again through a coffee filter or paper towel.
- Store in labeled plastic containers or bags in 2-3 cup amounts in your freezer.
Approximate cost/serving: I'm not even counting the veggie scraps, because they're things people normally throw away anyway. The total cost is under $2 for 8 cups!!! Imagine how much you can save using the homemade vegetable stock instead of canned stock!
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Yes and vegan too!
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.