Every great great soup needs on a strong foundation. Let’s talk stock.
We go through a lot of stock in our kitchen, so I make large batches (enough to fill our largest non-stick pot) to cut down on time, as this is a time-consuming process - but worth it!
Store-bought veggie stock is both stupidly expensive and full of things it doesn’t really need. As someone with a garlic sensitivity (read: vampire), I’ve only found a few vegetable stocks that don’t have garlic in them; I understand that I’m the weird one, and garlic is a catch-all flavor booster, but come on. If your stock needs a crapload of garlic and salt to 1) taste good, and 2) have any kind of shelf-life, then I don’t need to burn money on your product.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s make some delicious veggie stock!
1 T. olive oil
1 medium or large onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1-2 C. mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 t. dried basil (6-8 leaves if fresh)
1 t. dried oregano (1 T. if fresh)
5-8 whole peppercorns
24 C. water (or whatever your stockpot holds)
Prep time: 15-20 min
Cook time: 24-36 hrs
Yields ~ 16 C. broth, 2x strength
Heat oil in your stockpot over medium-high heat while you chop your onion, celery and carrots. Add them to the stockpot with 1 C. water, stirring regularly - this is your mirepoix. Cook it down a bit, until the onions are translucent and a large portion of the water has evaporated, then add the mushrooms, spices and water. Bring to a boil uncovered on high heat, then turn to medium-low and cover tightly when no longer boiling. We use an inverted loaf pan and foil-wrapped brick. Can you say, “professional?”
Now, leave it on medium-low (or low, depending on the size of your heating element) for the next day or so, checking to make sure it hasn’t cooked down too much or burned. I leave it on overnight and through the following day, but if you’re not comfortable with that, you can certainly refrigerate overnight and continue cooking in the AM (it will just take longer). Don’t let it sit cooling overnight on the stove, as foodborne illness sucks and you don’t want to dump an entire batch because it stood at room temp for 8 hours (I speak from experience).
When it’s ready (dark brown appearance, smells and tastes flavorful), let cool for an hour or so, skim off oil on top and strain into containers. We keep ours frozen until they’re needed, but you can also store some in the fridge for a few days - just remember that it doesn’t keep long as there is no salt in this recipe. You can add that when you’re cooking with your stock.
Sidenote - this stock is roughly 2x strength, so it takes up less freezer space and can be leveled up 1:1 for cooking, though we often use it 2:1 (stock to water).