Taking Stock: A Note on how to Make Vegetable Stocks

Soup Veges

It is harder to make a truly good and tasty veggie stock.

Well, that is what I thought when I gave up the making of stocks from animal products. It took me a while to figure it out.

Finally, I realised that making stock is just like making a great herbal tea (which I do really well). It is just a combination of flavours to suit the mood, the day, the recipe. We are so attuned to adding meat when we want a certain, gutsy flavour that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to get gutsy flavour without meat. Well, now my stocks are great again. Different but fabulous. Here are some of my tricks that I would like to share with you:

Firstly:

  • Don’t be precious. Make stocks from what you have on hand.

Collect Bits and Pieces on Your Walks

  • When out walking, collect stock ingredients – a stalk from that rosemary bush, some bay leaves, a little lavender, a lemon, some chillies, spurious herbs and the occasional vegetable. I live inner-city and know where to get all of these things on my walks – it is just a matter of looking. AND I don’t pinch them from people’s gardens — mostly they are street trees and bushes.
  • On my kitchen bench at the moment I have rosemary, bay, curry leaves, bay leaves, chilli, garlic, ginger, lavender, chilli, lemon and orange. All destined for some stock, tea or recipe.

Use Your Veggie Peelings — and The Freezer

  • Form the basis of stocks from left over vegetable peelings – onion, carrots, pumpkin, leek, celery – whatever you are cooking. Throw in some water from cooking lentils. Add half a lemon (no need to peel or cut it up) and a tomato. Garlic. Ginger. Whatever you have.
  • Remember that you can always freeze any left over vegetable peelings until you are ready to make the stock. Tomatoes can be frozen whole, or juiced and the juice frozen. Ginger and garlic can be frozen too.

Make Asian Style Stocks as well

  • I love Asian style stocks – chilli, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander roots, cardamom leaves, half a lime, ginger, garlic, five star anise. Even a luscious tomato. Sometimes my stocks are so flavoursome, I just add some bokchoy leaves, grated carrot, bean shoots to a bowl of hot stock and call it soup.

Use Lentils as Flavourings

  • A Really Special Trick. We all know the lovely dals of Indian cuisine, but did you know that lentils are also used as flavourings? Into my stocks sometimes go some red or yellow lentils – channa dal, toor dal,urad dal, bengal gram even – what ever takes my fancy at the time. About half a cup for a good pot of stock. Only use the small lentils that will cook down and at least start to go mushy.

“Ground” Your Stock

  • To “ground” a stock – give it a more earthy flavour – use black cardamom, Chinese dried mushrooms, turnip.

Start To Include Spices

  • Play with spices. Use cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, (all those “C”s again!), black mustard seeds, fenugreek leaves, a pinch of turmeric.

A Hint of Sour makes All the Difference

  • Every stock needs a little sourness – not discernible in the final product, but just to balance the flavours. Lemon or lime is ideal – just throw half of one into the stock. You can use other – tamarind (gives a dark colour), dried or fresh sour pomegranate seeds, dried or fresh green mango are some alternatives.

Balance the Flavours

  • Finally, play, play play until you find the balances of flavours that you like. Then make stock whenever you can. Freeze it and you will always have it on hand for soups, risottos, paellas, polenta dishes, ……
    YUM!

Enjoy!

Namaskaram.


People are saying:

Tiny Choices has a great little post on using vegetable peelings, including indoor composting and vegetable stocks. They say:

Rather than worry about how to compost them (though there are a lot of great options out there), how about turning those vegetable peelings into tasty and useful veggie stock?

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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
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20 Responses to Taking Stock: A Note on how to Make Vegetable Stocks

  1. amberjee says:

    I’m with you on the half a lemon thing. It makes all the difference. But then I wonder who I learned that from !?

  2. VegeYum says:

    …. and I learnt it from that wonderful cooking writer for The Australian for many many years – Dianne Holigue. She was a fabulous writer and cook, and my Most Famous Pumpkin Soup came from her pages. As well as the lemon trick.

    Actually, years later and having learnt a lot more about ingredients, I think it is not the use of the lemon per se, but the “sour” taste that balances the other flavours. Lots of cultures have it as a matter of course – Indian, Balinese, Chinese, …

    Miss our cooking and sharing a kitchen… Hope Imp is behaving.

  3. amberjee says:

    Oooh, I love that pumpkin soup. Is it the one with a turnip? Who would have thought to put a turnip, but it is genius. The Imp is pretty amusing at the moment. And he loves dogs. So cute! I’ve got a lot of washing today after an escapade with strawberry smushing in the pram in the supermarket. ‘Twas fun for all involved though.

  4. Padma says:

    Nice post on stocks, never tried them at home. You have a very good mind drafting all those beautiful words.

    Well I searched on ur blog for your mail id but could not find, so posting here… with ref to our discussion on roasted peppers. Yeah we do roast eggplants on stove tops, its been practised in India from generations. We do Baingan Bhartha out of the pulp which is so yummy and I love that smoky flavor to the eggplant flesh…simply delicious with whole wheat roti/tortilla!

    Try to google baingan ka bartha and you will find tons of recipes and if you like it try according to your taste as we Indians eat lot of hot n spicy stuff, be careful not to burn your tongue ;)

  5. VegeYum says:

    Padma, thanks for the tip – I didn’t know it was an Indian technique. So happy to find that out. I will make Baingan Bhartha and let you know how it goes.

    Amberjee, great that Imp also into discovering food. Yes, it is the turnip in the soup Most Famous Pumpkin Soup. I must post it some time.

  6. ellaella says:

    Great tips. I keep a resealable plastic bag in the freezer and add to it for veggie broth, everything from mushroom stems to veg peelings. And add me to list of lemon users.

  7. amberjee says:

    that’s great ella, i must do that. another thing i’ve been doing is that i’ve got this supersized silicon ice tray thing which is meant to be for freezing portions of baby food. The Imp? Eat baby food? I don’t think so. So usefully, I make mini portions of stock and keep them in a bag in the freezer for throwing into stirfrys, or just when you need a little stock flavour instead of just water, but you don’t want to defrost a bucket of the stuff and don’t want to resort to those horrid little cubes.

  8. amberjee says:

    oh you could just as well use an ice cube tray…

  9. Maninas says:

    Great ideas, thanks! i’ve never tried making my own vegetable stock, but it makes so much sense using all the peeling, etc. to make it!

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  12. Anishka Choudhary says:

    i saw your website and i really liked it and i want to no hw to make a prpoer veg stock because i love chinese food so i want to learn to make the stock.Pls if you can send me because i am not able to understand on your site.

    Hi Anishka, thank you for dropping by. This site is not a Q&A site – I have enough trouble finding time to do what I love – cook and blog about it. But this post will help you a lot, and there is plenty of information on the internet. Happy surfing. Good luck with your journey in cooking.

  13. Wei-Yann says:

    Hi there! I read that you grow curry leaves:) How did you do it? It’s difficult to find these leaves in California. Thanks!

    It is sorta hard, I agree. I have a tree in a pot that looses its leaves each winter, but provides me enough for most of the year for use. Recently I bought 2 new plants to increase my supply.

    But do you have Asian or Indian shops nearby? They are likely to have the leaves.

  14. Homemade vegetable is quite easy to make and so much healthier and more flavorful than anything that you can buy in the supermarket.

  15. Jack says:

    ” I live inner-city and know where to get all of these things on my walks – it is just a matter of looking. ”

    Go buy your own. People steal herbs, fruit and veggies from my garden all the time, thinking it’s ok as they’re only taking a handful. I see them walk past and reach over the brick divider for a handful of parsley or whatever. I’m sick of it. Do not take food that is not yours from other people’s gardens. Grow your own or buy your own. Certainly don’t use your blog to advise people to steal from others’ gardens. I am not putting in the time and effort to have a good veggie garden so that a bunch of passers by can reap the benefits through theft. I guess it would be ok with you if took ‘just a handful’ of change from your wallet?

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