Do you love eating soup, curries or sauces? And do you regularly come across the odd carrot or fennel bulb on the bottom or your fridge? Does that bother you? Then this recipe for a healthy, nutritious homemade vegetable stock is for you! It is very easy to make and a great item to have in your fridge.
Homemade vegetable stock is full of vitamins and can be used as base for any warming soup, as well as addition for coconut curries or other sauce-based dishes – adding extra health and flavour to them. I always have a mason jar of stock in my fridge. More on ingredients and amounts see further down below.
Cooking vegetable stock is one of the things I love doing on a lazy Sunday morning. In Germany, shops are closed Sundays, so it’s great to use some of our downtime for making stock or yogurt. They both basically cook themselves, while you just have to stick around a bit, stirring your simmering soup base or milk (for yogurt), whenever you pass by your pot. Apart from my nut granola, this stock is the item from my blog which I make most often. I use it so much that I always need a new batch again real soon.
And we eat so many veggies that we never run out of broccoli or cauliflower chunks and leaves, and the like. And, yes, I do stumble across that occasional wilting carrot on the bottom of my fridge or forget that I had bought that fennel bulb. No more waste! It can all go into the pot to make one delicious, healthy soup base!
What will your vegetable stock look like?
Above you can see a selection of suitable vegetables. Normally, I post photos of my ingredients exactly as used in a recipe, but I don’t do that here. For one, nobody wants to see my pile of wilted veggies. For two, my ingredients are different each time. So each time, my homemade stock looks a little different.
For the vegetable stock pictured at the top of this post, I used mostly cauliflower and broccoli chunks, one carrot, one white onion, a green tomato and some celery including leaves. For the one pictured below, I used red tomatoes, red onions, carrots, one wrinkled but perfectly fine red pepper and some past-its-prime cauliflower – and added some tomato puree which is an optional ingredient. You can see the difference!
Both varieties can be used interchangeably in all recipes that call for vegetable stock. Just taste them when finished and still warm, so that you know what you’ve got. The taste of the final product may vary a tiny bit, depending on the kind of stock you use. Most important: Whatever homemade soup base you use, it will always add deliciousness!
How to add homemade veggie stock when cooking your meals
When adding homemade stock to your meals, you need to know not only its flavour, but also how intense that flavour is. When following recipes, first use the amount of stock mentioned there. After simmering and reducing, you may want to add more liquid to your soup or curry. This is the moment to taste and decide whether you will add just water, or more stock. Water will keep the flavour basically the same (as there will probably be more simmering and reducing). Adding more stock will enhance the flavour.
The same goes for salt content. Granulated or store-bought stock base is pretty salty, usually containing more sodium that we would like. So, taste your sauce or soup a few minutes after adding veggie stock and decide how much additional salt you need for the perfect seasoning.
This may sound a little complicated but it really is not! I got used to these tricks very quickly when starting to cook my own veg stock a few years ago. And to this day, I love having it sit there in my fridge, being available when this great, mouth-watering recipe i wanna make asks for 3 tablespoons of “stock, preferably homemade.” So much better than tossing old vegetables.
A word on ingredients
Which veggies can you use? Most of them.
Staples for me include onions, leek, scallions, carrots, celeriac, cabbage leaves, celery (including leaves), tomatoes, mushrooms or fennel bulbs. Great are unused things like the stems of broccoli and cauliflower, zucchini ends or bell pepper lids. Spinach or kale leaves are a great addition towards the end of the cooking process, be they wilted or fresh. Kohlrabi are also good, but they never last long enough in my fridge as we love to munch them raw.
Generally, do not use anything starchy such as potatoes, as the starch will go into the liquid, making it very thick and unsuitable for further cooking.
One very important thing: You can use vegetables when slightly past their prime, like that carrot you can bend 90 degrees or that pepper with wrinkled skin. If the vegetable generally looks tired but healthy, you can use it. Generously chop off brown spots on the surface. If you plan on cooking a much larger batch of broth, I recommend to store your leftover veg in the freezer, either in a container or a zipper bag. That way, they cannot really turn bad. Because, you should never, NEVER use anything rotten or with mold on it. Mold is a fungus that grows into the vegetable, even to parts where you cannot see it yet. Both rot and mold are unhealthy and make your stock turn bad at an instant.
When making stock, I usually start by frying onion (or leek/scallion), garlic and carrot pieces in coconut or rapeseed oil. If I use tomato puree, I add it once the onion becomes translucent. I quickly stir it in, and then add the water. Once the water starts to bubble, I add the vegetables. Keep the temperature high until the water is boiling again. Then, add rosemary, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper and stir well. Put the heat down and the lid on the pot. Keep watching your pot and let the stock simmer for as long as you want, stirring occasionally. That way, the liquid will slowly reduce, intensifying in flavour.
I recommend cooking it for at least one hour. The longer you cook it, the more nutrients and flavour will enter your stock. The volume will shrink, resulting in a more concentrated stock. Towards the end of your cooking, taste your stock and check whether you would like to add more salt or pepper.
Once your stock is ready, carefully remove and discard the vegetables and keep the clear broth. Once it has cooled just a bit, pour stock into your prepared mason jar and seal immediately. If you have more liquid left than one liter, pour the rest into a smaller glass container in the same way. You can keep your broth in the fridge for about a week in a well-sealed container. For longer storage, freeze your stock in units of one cup or even smaller batches for convenient use in recipes. Frozen, they last for a month.
How to cook your stock
The recipe is flexible, but below find a rough sketch of the amounts needed.
Liquid: I usually boil 2 liters of water down to 1 liter.
Veg: I usually use one piece from the onion family (onion, leek or scallion), one carrot and 2 garlic cloves. Sometimes, I add one sliced fresh chili or a bit of tomato puree. These go into the pot first to be fried. After adding the water and bringing it to the boil, I throw in 3-4 generous handfuls of coarsely chopped vegetables as described above. It is important to thoroughly clean all the vegetables before chopping them.
On the image below is what I used for my latest soup base. The veggies are all chopped up a bit and ready to go into my pot. Carrots and onions were already roasting in there when I took the picture. I just added the red onion for more color 😉
For those of you, who would like to make broth but rather a protein-based version than made purely from vegetables, chicken stock is a great option. It is nutritious and puts the carcasses of your chicken dinners to good use. Same as wilted veg, carcasses can be frozen until you have enough to make your stock. You can also cook a few carcasses with loads of veggies and create a mixed vegetable-chicken stock. I have done that multiple times!
Just be creative and play around a little with your ingredients. If you like, add some additional herbs or spices, and see what you like best. Let me know if you have tried any exotic mix you would love to share!
Perfect soup base! With this easy and nutritious vegetable stock, you can enrich any soup, curry or other sauce-based dish. Use fresh, stored or wilted veggies – well cooked, the result is always delicious.
For 1 large mason jar (= about 1 l of stock)
1 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
1 onion or leek, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 fresh chili (optional)
3–4 handfuls cleaned and coarsely chopped vegetables such as celeriac, cabbage leaves, celery (including leaves), kohlrabi, tomatoes, mushrooms, fennel bulbs, spinach or kale. Great are also unused things like the stems of broccoli and cauliflower, zucchini ends or bell pepper lids.
2 liters of water
1 rosemary sprig
1 thyme sprig
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat rapeseed or coconut oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Put in onion (or leek/scallion), garlic and carrot pieces and fry until the onions are translucent. If you use tomato puree and chili, add it now and quickly stir it in.
- Add 2 liters of water and bring the mix to a boil.
- Add all your remaining vegetables into the pot and stir them in, until all of them are covered by water. Bring the water to the boil again. Add salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and keep your stock simmering for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
- After one hour, taste the stock and add more salt if needed. If you feel the stock needs to reduce further and enhance the flavour, keep it on the stove simmering away a bit longer until you feel it is just right.
- Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the vegetables from the pot and discard. Fill the stock into a mason jar and seal immediately.
In the fridge, the stock lasts for about a week. For longer storage, freeze smaller units of one cup each or even smaller batches. That way you can pull them out in just the amount you need.
Feel free to add additional healthy spices! Suitable are ginger (sliced fresh ginger or ginger powder, turmeric powder, sliced lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, cumin or fennel seeds. Play around for your taste buds and make a slightly different stock every time!
- Category: basics
- Method: boil and simmer
- Cuisine: international