Vegetable Stock

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    2 to 3 quarts

Appears in

From Scratch: 10 Meals, 175 Recipes, and Dozens of Techniques You Will Use Over and Over

From Scratch

By Michael Ruhlman

Published 2019

  • About

Vegetable stock is probably the most valuable stock in a home kitchen because it’s so quick, versatile, and flexible. It falls into the category of preparations not to buy at the store because it’s so much better than any boxed product that they can’t really be compared. I highly recommend making it a regular part of your repertoire. Make it on a Sunday afternoon and use it throughout the week for sauces and as a braising liquid.

You can use any sweet vegetables you wish. Onions and carrots are the stock’s backbone—never skimp on them. Fennel and thyme give it great anise and floral notes. Mushrooms and bay leaves give it savoriness. Tomato and tomato paste balance the sweetness with acidity and add color. I don’t use celery because Thomas Keller told me that celery can make stocks bitter, and I’ve found that he’s right. (The only stock I like celery with is beef stock; beef and celery are a terrific pairing generally.)

Slice everything thinly. You can sweat the vegetables for a deeper flavor, or even caramelize the vegetables for deep sweetness. But simply combining everything raw and covering with cold water will do very nicely. Always be thoughtful about adding salt to a base preparation; if you know you’ll be using this for a soup base, you can add salt at the beginning. But don’t add salt if you’re making a dish like Broken Pasta with Potatoes, which is finished with a salty cheese.

The only danger here is cooking the stock for too long or too hard, so cook at a low-low simmer, barely bubbling. After about an hour the vegetables can fall apart, and those fragments absorb the stock, which means some of your stock will get thrown out when you empty your strainer.

Ingredients

  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise, well cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Spanish onion, brown papery skin and all (though discard any skins with dirt that won’t rub off), thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, greens trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces/225 grams white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 or 5 thyme sprigs
  • 3 quarts/3 liters water

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 50 to 60 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or through cheesecloth.

Taste the broth. If you would like the flavor to be more concentrated, reduce it by as much as one-third, to about 2 quarts/2 liters. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.