For the broth:
Vegetables, washed and roughly chopped
For the bouquet garni:
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1-2 dried bay leaves
Optional: rosemary sprigs, orange peel, cloves, savory, oregano
1. Choose Your Vegetables
Carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, celery, tomatoes and turnips are traditional, but what you settle on is a matter of taste. If you don’t like onions, for example, don’t use them in your stock. Tomatoes add a richness and depth that can compensate for the lack of meat. Potatoes and parsnip make the broth cloudy and gray (though do not negatively affect the taste) while strongly flavored vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, fennel) have the potential to overpower other flavors.
2. Prepare the Raw Vegetables
Chop your vegetables roughly. They should be well washed, but there is no need to peel or otherwise prepare them. You can even use vegetable scraps for the stock.
3. Sauté the Vegetables
Sauté the vegetables gently in butter or olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot.
4. Boil Vegetables in Water
Cover the vegetables with hot water (up to 3 inches), cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil on the stove.
5. Make the Bouquet Garni
Cut a square of cheesecloth approximately 8 by 8 inches, and place your herbs, snipped or roughly chopped, in the center. Tie in a bundle with butcher string and drop into the stock pot.
6. Simmer the Vegetable Broth
When the stock comes to a boil, turn the heat down. Partially uncover the pot to allow some steam to escape as it continues to cook, and allow the broth to simmer for at least an hour and up to an entire day if you want. Add water as it evaporates to keep at least an inch above the vegetables.
7. Strain the Stock
When you’ve finished cooking, strain the broth to remove vegetables and bouquet garni and return the stock to the pot. Taste the broth, and, if you’re satisfied, salt (or leave it unsalted, which allows you to adjust the salt at the time you use the broth in another dish).
8. How to Concentrate Stock
If you would like a more robust stock, reduce the liquid by bringing it to a rolling boil and allowing it to cook down. The more it does, the stronger the flavors will become. IMPORTANT: Do not salt before you reduce your stock. The salt will become concentrated along with all the other flavors.
Homemade vegetable stock keeps up to a week in the refrigerator and will freeze for up to a year.
Looking for a way to use some of that tasty homemade stock? Check out this recipe for simple vegetable soup.