the following recipe will take about one hour to cook and leave you with a very good tasting vegetarian stock which can be used right away or divided up and frozen in either half cup or one cup portions (some people like to freeze their stock in ice cube trays). freezing your broth is a good idea as you always have some on hand.
an advantage to making your own vegetable broth is that you can decide what flavours you like and control the level of salt and seasonings. in addition, this particular one which i found years ago in some book someone lent me (name of it now long forgotten!), and uses up common vegetables we often have, many of which are laying around in the vegetable bins of our refrigerators.
you can use whichever vegetables you want but be wary of those which are said to leave bitter aftertastes or distinct strong flavours. this also goes for various herbs like parsley (leaves vs stems controversy). people have differing opinions about this topic. go with what you think tastes good and those which you like. different countries have different parameters for which flavours are "good" — in the end, it's a matter of personal tastes. an interesting thing about this recipe is the use of caraway seeds. believe it or not, it makes for a great enhancement and does not leave any distinct caraway (i.e. strong) taste.
an important thing about making this stock provide maximum flavour is the way you prepare your vegetables. this was not part of the original recipe but something i incorporate into most stocks i make which are vegetable based. since most of the flavours are sealed within the vegetables themselves, just throwing them in the soup pot whole or even large chunks does little to extract their essences. cutting root vegetables (the main ingredients in this recipe) lengthwise to expose the most of their inner surface allows for maximum amount of extraction; cross cutting onions and garlic almost to the root ends does the same thing and allows them to be fished out later in their whole state. as a final note, this recipe adds the cleaned skins of the onions to give the stock its golden colour. remove the outer loose skins and wash them well and them wash the skins which cling to the onions before cutting them as mentioned above (keep them attached!).
all purpose easy vegetable stock
makes ~ 8 cups (2 L)
2 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 good and ripe tomato (leave whole)
2 large parsnips (essential!)
2 medium/largish onions
1/2 head garlic cloves (keep attached)
2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp sugar
20 black peppercorns
1/2 - 1 tsp caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
parsley (italian flatleaf type)
small amount of dill, if wanted
wash all your vegetables well and prepare them.
from the carrots, celery and parsnips, remove the root tops. you can peel the carrots and parsnips if they need it or you prefer them that way (if you want to keep them for another purpose later, them peel them).
cut the celery into large chunks and set aside.
cut the parsnips and carrots lengthwise. make sure to do this! then cut them into large chunks and set aside.
take the loose skins (if any) off the onions and wash them and set aside. then take the onion with remaining skin still attached and cut it with a cross cut ALMOST to the ROOT end to keep it whole. set aside.
keeping it whole (attached), clean off the garlic. with a small paring knife make slits in all the garlic buds through the skins, and set aside.
if you are using other vegetables, decide what's best on how to prepare them.
measure out your seasonings and herbs and set aside.
in a large pot, place the vegetables and the seasonings EXCEPT the fresh herbs.
add 8 cups of water only and bring to a boil.
cook the stock on medium low covered for the first 30 minutes.
add the fresh herbs and cook for another 30 minutes.
remove the stock from the stovetop and let it cool down until it's warm.
strain the stock through a FINE sieve and either reserve or discard the carrots, celery or parsnips. the onion and garlic will be for the garbage.
at this point, taste the stock and adjust the seasonings (i.e. more salt/sugar).
use as necessary or freeze the rest.