Stocks and broths are the literal foundation of every soup, stew, and braise we make, and that’s why we are extra enthusiastic about using homemade stocks (or broths, but let’s just say stocks from now on!) whenever possible.
We aren’t oblivious to the absolute convenience of the store-bought versions—or to the absolute inconvenience of making your own! But that’s why we really, really love vegetable stock. It’s quick, it’s easy to strain, there’s no meat to mess with, and best of all, you can make it with just leftovers! Here’s how.
Vegetable stock is nothing more than vegetables boiled in water to create a flavorful liquid. The blend of vegetables will determine the final flavor of the stock, so for an all-purpose base, we like to use plenty of our more neutral aromatic veggies, like onions, carrots, and celery.
But since we also believe in waste-not-want-not, we love the opportunity to use up the odds and ends of veggies from a week (or weeks). Every time you trim a veggie, whether it’s carrots, broccoli, onions (skin, too!), tomatoes, scallions, mushrooms—seriously, anything—drop the scraps into a zip-top bag in your freezer.
When you’re ready to make your stock, dump the veggies in the pot, cover it with water, and simmer it for about 30 minutes. Strain it, then use it or cool it for later.
Ideally, you would have about 1 lb of vegetables for every 1 quart of water that you use. But if you aren’t in the mood for prevision, you can put your veggies in a pot and add enough water to cover by about an inch. If the resulting broth isn’t quite as flavorful as you would like, you can simmer it to reduce it, which will make it more flavorful.
If you’re wondering if you can save meat scraps for broth, the answer is: super yes! After you’ve roasted a chicken (or eaten that prepared rotisserie chicken), put the carcass in a zip-top bag. Same goes for bone-in thighs or drumsticks. Save bones from pork ribs or bone-in pork chops, the bones from steaks. Anything will help fortify a basic homemade broth.
If you make a big batch of stock and don’t use it all, freeze your stock in usable portions. Pick up a silicone cupcake pan and freeze the broth in 1/2 cup to 1 cup portions. Freeze them, then pop them out and transfer the frozen stock to a zip-top bag. Label the bag so you know how much is in each portion, and then you can defrost just as much as you need for the recipe you’re preparing!