If you spend a few minutes looking around this blog, you might notice I make a lot of soup. Not only that, it seems like every recipe I make - be it soup or rice pilaf or you name it - requires chicken or veggie stock. This week, as I am planning my Thanksgiving preparations I realized I will probably need stock for just about everything I plan on making.
In the US, it never even occurred to me that I could make my own - it was just too easy to pick some up at the store (regardless of the extra cost) and I never really put any thought into the benefits of making my own - or the harm in buying it pre-made. Pre-made stock here is rare and expensive in Germany, so when I moved here I really had little choice but to figure out how to make it myself. Turns out, making stock at home is ridiculously simple and easy. I struggled the first few times I made it - it would be bland or watery - but I finally figured out exactly what works best.
Making your own stock means you get to control what goes in it - the types of vegetables and seasonings as well as the amount of sodium and fat. I have almost always preferred to use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock because it is lower fat, lower sodium and doesn't require consumption of an animal that is already grotesquely over-consumed. This broth is completely fat free and can be totally sodium free as well, if you choose (I chose to just add about one teaspoon of salt to the whole pot). It packs a ton of strong roasted veggie flavor - just like the stuff I used to buy at the store - and it cost me roughly 3 euros for eight whole cups of stock. Um, hello I used to pay 4 bucks for half that amount!!
Homemade Vegetable Stock
12 cups water
about 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 kilo carrots, chopped and not peeled
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 large purple onion, quartered
1 lb/large bunch celery, coarse chopped (leaving the tight little leaves on)
5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 bay leaves
pinch mustard seeds
Put all the cut up vegetables (I don't roast the garlic, but that is up to you) in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 F/200 C - until carrots just start to caramelize and peppers are just starting to get black spots (you don't want them overly charred, just barely roasted).
Remove from oven and transfer to a large stock pot. Add the garlic, black pepper, bay leaves and mustard seeds and a pinch or too of salt (optional).
Cover with the water then put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow to boil/simmer for around one to one and half hours.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or through cheesecloth if you want a really clean stock). At this point I will reserve the carrots to use in dog food (taking care there are no onions mixed in with them)(I can't stand letting any food go to waste). Let it cool and transfer to containers to freeze - I generally will freeze in one cup increments in small plastic containers, though sometimes I will do 3 or 4 cups in one since this is a good amount to defrost for soup. Make sure and label it, 5 months from now you might not remember what it is (though mine never lasts that long).
This recipe yielded me 8 cups of good strong vegetable stock.
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