Well…welcome back winter. I wish I could say that I have been missing you, but that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. In all actuality I had dangerously moved on in my mind to thinking that we were not going to see anymore snow. Browsing websites of my favorite clothing stores, checking out tees, shorts and dare I say…flip flops. Not a good idea. Because here we are with snow again and I am feeling that horrible heaviness that comes this time of year…the winter blahs. My optimist husband reminds me that the snow won’t last long, which is true. But still…
Now that the cold weather is back soups are once again in our meal plan rotation. The last time we had a blizzard, with soup planned for the next day I found myself without the vegetable stock I needed. With bad road conditions I didn’t want to send my husband out of his way coming home to pick it up. It was then I considered the idea of making vegetable stock myself.
Now, stay with me here, I’m not going all Martha Stewart on you with the making of the homemade stock. I too watched “The Barefoot Contessa“, and listened to her talk about how much better it is for your recipes if you take the time to make the stock going into them. I rolled my eyes and sarcastically thought, “Sure Ina, no problem”, “I have tons of time for that”.
However, we were in the middle of a snow storm, so I did have the time on my hands. I hit the computer to search vegetable stock. After reading a few sites I was convinced that making your own stock really isn’t as scary or time consuming as I had thought. Now, I can’t attest to making chicken stock, but vegetable is really quite simple. It’s just a matter of chopping some veggies (just about any you have on hand) adding some herbs and water then letting it boil away for about 90 minutes.
At the end of that 90 minutes what you are left with is a rich colored stock that really does add more flavor to your soups. Score one for Martha and Ina…they were right.
This recipe makes roughly 10 cups of stock and keeps in the fridge for a week, or you can stick it in the freezer to pull out at a later time.
adapted from several recipes, mostly Vegan Yum Yum, and a few scribbles in my recipe notebook
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4-5 carrots, chopped
1 large onion
4-5 celery stocks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2-3 potatoes, chopped
lots of fresh parsley
10 whole peppercorns
2 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1 Bay Leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 gallon of water
**This recipe is very flexible, use any leftover vegetables you might have. I’ve thrown in chunks of red and yellow pepper, leeks, sweet potato. It’s really whatever you have on hand.
Heat the olive oil in your stock pot and adding each vegetable as you get them chopped. Add the salt and peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, soy sauce and tomato paste. Then add the water and cover. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down slightly. Simmer for 1 hour. After 1 hour test your seasonings (add salt if needed) and allow to continue simmering for another 30 minutes to concentrate the flavor.
When your final 30 minutes are up strain the broth and vegetables.
At this point you can put it into your refrigerator and freezer containers.
The first time I used this stock Bret and the boys kept asking what I had done differently to the soup, “it’s so good”, “did you change something?” The only thing I had done differently was use this homemade stock instead of my usual store bought. The flavor of our soup was richer and so was the color. Being a busy mom I know it’s not realistic to think I’ll always have time to make this, some weeks are just too crazy. But knowing that I can make it and put the extra in the freezer for another day, another meal (perhaps saving me during those crazy weeks), makes it worth the extra effort during the weeks that aren’t so hectic.
Feel free to comment if you have your own tips for making good stock. I’d love to hear them!