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Homemade Stock

Does anyone have any neat tricks for making flavorful vegetable stock? I excel at meat stocks but my vegetable stock seems to lack flavor so I tend to buy it. Also, what ratio of vegetables to water do you use? Length of time, method, etc.

I am not vegetarian anymore, but my daughter and many other family members are -and I still eat vegetarian about 2 or 3 days week. I eat mostly soups for daily lunches and I really prefer homemade stocks for them. Do you have a favorite stock recipe that is versatile enough for a variety of soups?

Thanks much!

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  1. I used to have a friend who was on a very restricted diet. Her soups were delicious. Her standard stock was to simply simmer raw, shelled nuts in water. It produced a hearty yet clean flavor. Most of the time she strained the nut meats out. Once in a while she would puree the nuts and liquid if she wanted a thicker soup.

    3 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      This is interesting. Any type of nuts in particular, meatn3?

      1. re: onceadaylily

        Her health issues caused her to live like a church mouse, so I suspect her choice was determined by price or what she could gather. Pecans were grown in the area and she gathered them. I also remember her using walnuts.

        Sorry, it's been over 20 years, and at the time I made note of it largely because the idea was so novel to me.

        I did use the techniques a few times when making soup for vegan friends. I simmered the broth until the flavor was pleasing to me - I don't think it took more than an hour at best. I remember making a carrot soup with the broth that was well received, but I have no idea what else I put in it!

      2. I just save veggie "scraps" in the freezer, so every batch of stock tastes a bit different, but always add in carrots (unpeeled), celery, and onions (unpeeled, quartered). Other veggies usually include leek trimmings and mushroom stems.

        When I have enough veg accumulated, I roast the trimmings in a bit of olive oil until well caramelized, then deglaze the roasting pan with either wine or water, scraping-up the browned bits, dump it all in a stock pot, add water to cover, and allow it to simmer (very slowly - almost more of a steeping than a simmer) for a few hours. Strain, cool, and freeze. (Er, don't forget, as I did last week, to put a pan / large bowl under the strainer, else you'll be watching your lovely stock go down the drain!)

        I really don't have a ratio for ingredients, but I do try to leave skins / peels on the vegetables, roast until they smell rich, and then proceed.

        1. Have you tried to use something to give it an umami kick to compensate the lack of meats? Like Asian dried shiitake for example.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I always use dried mushrooms of some sort n vegetable stock, as well as roasting the vegetables, using a couple of whole potatoes and many onion skins.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I might have before, but not usually. I will make a concerted effort now though. I will also add more onion skins per magiesmom suggestion too....and a few nuts!

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                this definitely helps. dried mushrooms & miso are my two favorite ways to achieve it with veggie stock.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Miso!

                  I am making some stock later today and I intend to try out some of these ideas.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    let us know how it goes! i tend to use mushrooms *and* miso in combination. i've found that they balance each other so your stock doesn't become too salty or mushroom-y.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Okay, I made some. It turned out better than usual...at least not watery and lacking in flavor. I think I simmered it too long and it got a little bitter. I kinda forgot about it as I was cooking other things.

                      The color was great from the onion skins (I used more than I normally would). I added some dried shiitake, a splash of soy sauce, and roasted the veg really well. When it was finished ,I stirred in a bit of miso. It has good flavor and I will make a vegetable soup out of it tomorrow when my daughter comes to visit.
                      Thanks peeps!

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I have found that dried shitake mushrooms, seaweed, and Parmesan rinds (if it doesn't have to be vegan) are must-haves for a decent tasting veggie stock.

                3. Homemade stock. Here’s my method.

                  Also save veggie scraps in the freezer (broccoli, kale, parsley stems).

                  Add remaining herbs from infused oils (thyme, savory, oregano). Lots of great flavor.

                  Sometimes onion, garlic, carrots, celery, but I often have that in the dish so it’s not mandatory.

                  Add about 3-4 qts. water then pressure cook about 1 hr.

                  Used to do the long, slow simmer for about 4 hrs. but was about to make soup one day before I realized there was no stock in freezer. So I pressure cooked everything with superior results. Been doing it that way ever since.

                  This is my “go to” for soups, rice, beans, lentils, etc., instead of plain water.

                  I don’t add salt bec. I usually add beef or chicken bouillon to the dish. Maybe there’s a veggie bouillon that would give extra flavor?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Spice_zing

                    Better than Bouillon has two which are vegetarian - one is mushroom the other is vegetable. They are harder to find than their meat based ones.They may be vegan, but it has been awhile since I've seen them.

                    1. re: meatn3

                      They also make a vegan no-beef base and no-chicken base. They are listed on the company's website under their vegetarian selections (I have to order the no-beef online, but the no-chicken is easily found at WF). Odd that the first two I just mentioned are the only ones grouped under 'vegetarian', with the mushroom and vegetable being listed with their other bases, but they might just sell better grouped with the others. *shrug*

                      1. re: meatn3

                        I tried one or two of the vegetarian 'Better than Boullion' bases (I have the 'no-chicken' and 'roasted vegetable' ones), and wasn't really impressed - tasted too much like, well.. boullion cubes.

                        The vegetarian ones, and especially the organic ones have fewer flavor enhancers than the standard ones seem to.

                    2. I use the roasted vegetable stock recipe from the yellow "Gourmet" cookbook
                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      More expensive than just using scraps, but I get good results. I often reduce it down really far, and freeze into 1" square ice cubes.

                      For certain types of things, I like a bit lighter stock, so I'll do a more basic un-roasted stock with just leek, carrot, shallot, parsley, etc. I think the main thing is getting the balance of sweet and savory ingredients right.

                      For Asian food, I usually make a very light stock base with kelp (soak in cold water for as long as possible, bring the water up to temperature with the kelp in it, but remove it just before it comes to a boil) and soybean sprouts. Sometimes I'll use some scallion whites, carrots, or ginger, and for a s tronger flavor, maybe some dried shitake mushrooms, or shitake soaking liquid.