A good vegetable stock varies with the ingredients you have on hand and the flavor you want for the finished dish. That said, this version is one that Diane makes in large quantities and freezes as a foundation to build on later. The potatoes give it body, the string beans add a great flavor, the mushrooms impart their earthiness. The fennel trimmings are a relatively new addition, the result of having had a lot of fennel around and discovering how much flavor it added to the stockpot.

Makes 2 quarts

Ingredients

2 onions, halved
1 leek, roots removed, sliced vertically down the center, washed well
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 cups string beans, stem side removed, left whole
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, left whole, or stems from any mushrooms left over from another recipe
4 stalks celery, cut in big chunks
2 carrots, cut in big chunks
3 to 4 white potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
trimmings from 2 to 3 fennel bulbs
½ cup white wine or water or
3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Amino, for deglazing roasting pan
6 quarts water
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Oven-roast all the ingredients except the deglazing liquid and water for approximately 1 hour.
  3. When the vegetables are almost caramelized, transfer them to a stockpot.
  4. Add the wine, water, or Bragg to the roasting pan and stir, scraping up the bits of vegetables from the bottom of the pan. If using wine, let the liquid cook down a little bit.
  5. Add the 6 quarts water to the roasted vegetables. Cover the stockpot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Strain the stock and use immediately or freeze once cooled.

Note

  • Add vegetables that support or complement the flavors of the dish you are making — asparagus trimmings for asparagus soup, corn cobs for corn chowder, the skins and seeds of winter squash for soups featuring those vegetables.
  • Avoid vegetables in the cabbage family, which tend to make stock bitter and gassy over the long cooking time required.
  • Don’t use old vegetables. If you wouldn’t eat it as a vegetable, don’t put it in the stockpot.
  • Don’t over-caramelize the vegetables.
  • Freezes well for approximately 6 months.