The Ultimate Vegetable Stock
Updated: Nov 15
Stocks are basic ingredients. It also means you want to get the basics right! Not just when working out during personal training for example but all the time. Having a high quality vegetable stock ready at home is one of the cornerstones of healthy cooking. Regardless whether you prefer Chinese, Malay, Indian or Western cuisines, many of them use some kind of basic stock. The vegan vegetable stock here can serve as a good basis for most cuisines and you can also use it for keto or paleo recipes. We like this recipe from the Professional Cooking book by Gisslen. We hope you'll find it useful and delicious too!
Vegetable stocks can be used in a great variety of vegetarian soups and sauces. Vegetable stocks are made with no animal product and they're 100% suitable for vegetarian and vegan dishes! The stock here is also gluten free and has no added sugar, making it suitable for those with diabetes or who aims to live a healthy lifestyle. The basic ingredients of the vegetable stock are fresh vegetables, water, herbs and spices. We also prefer to use fresh, Malaysian vegetables from Cameron Highland or ordering veggies online from local organic farms and suppliers whenever it's possible.
So what vegetables can you use for a veggie stock?
The most basic vegetables used for any stock are called Mirepoix [meer-pwah]. This fancy term originates from French cooking. The basic Mirepoix consists 3 basic vegetables:
Luckily they are all widely available in most Malaysians shops and supermarkets so it shouldn’t be a problem where to find them. The most common ration of these vegetables are 1 unit onion goes with 0.5 unit of carrots and 0.5 units of celery. So if you use 1 kg onion to make stock, you'll need 0.5 kg carrots, and 0.5 kg celery. However later you'll see that you can be flexible with this and experiment with the proportions.
If it’s important to keep your stock colourless, then you can substitute the carrot for parsnips, and the celery stalks to celery root. You can normally find these in Ben’s Independent Grocer, Jaya Grocer or Village Grocer. The result will be a white mirepoix. You might also add some mushroom trimmings and leek too.
Other vegetables that you can use for the vegetable stock are:
Adding tomatoes to your stock help to increase the acidity and the flavour of the vegetable stock, but they can also change the colour of the stock if that’s important! However if you want to use the stock to serve as a basis for your tomato soup or tomato sauce, feel free to use them!
Similarly you can use other vegetables in different quantity if you want a certain type of taste to dominate. For example adding asparagus, broccoli stalks or extra portion of mushrooms will change the flavour profile of the vegetable stock.
You have to be careful with adding starchy vegetables to your stock such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash or pumpkins, as these will make your stock cloudy. But of course if you’re making a pumpkin or carrot and coriander soup for example, then it’s not a problem if the stock gets cloudy, as in this case the clarity of the vegetable stock is not so important.
Some vegetables add just way too much flavour: it’s better NOT to add cauliflower, artichokes and Brussels sprouts for this reason!
Never use dark green leafy vegetables when making vegetable stock, such as spinach. If you cook spinach in the vegetable stock for long time it will add a very unpleasant flavour.
Beetroots will turn your stock red, and better NOT to be used!
Can I add herbs and spices to my vegetable stock?
Absolutely! And you really should! But be careful not to use too much of them as they can easily overpower the flavours, so use them slightly. Also remember that salt is almost never used in stocks. The most common herbs and spices used in vegetable stocks are thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves and parsley stems. I normally use a stainless steel metal teapot to put the small spices in, as it helps to discard them easily after (or during) cooking.
What else do I need to know before start preparing?
Before you decide how much ultimate vegetable stock you’re going to prepare, make sure you have a suitable size stock pot. For the vegetable stock here you’ll need at least a 6 litres stock pot. Alternatively you can divide the ingredients into half and you can make a smaller batch of vegetable stock. If you don’t have a stockpot you can get one from IKEA for example. They have different sizes, up to 15 litres, and they’re relatively good quality in my opinion.
How much water shall I use?
You can use 4 litres of water for every 2 kg of vegetables, but this rule is not carved in stone. You can be flexible! Also if the water level decreases much you can always refill your pot. If you don't replace the evaporated water, you vegetable stock will have a more concentrated flavour.
Shall I use oil?
If you sweat your ingredients before adding the water to the stock it will provide a mellower flavour but it is not necessary. I would also recommend to use a neutral flavour oil, such as vegetable oil. If it's not important for you to make a 100% vegan or paleo stock you can use butter as well to sweat the vegetables. Butter is widely used in keto and Mediterranean diet so if you follow any of these, feel free to add butter, or even some white wine (the alcohol will be 'cooked away' during the process).
How and how long can I store the vegetable stock?
You can store the vegetable stock for up to 3-4 days in the fridge, or for up to 4 months in the freezer! I always freeze some stock as ice cubes, so I don’t need to defrost a whole 0.5 litres batch if I need only one cup of veggie stock for the food I’m making.
How long do I need to cook the vegetable stock?
The best to cook for 30-45 minutes. This amount of time is sufficiently enough to extract the flavours effectively but not to lose them.
What do I do with the vegetables after cooking?
The vegetables are hardly reused or eaten after cooking. Normally you discard them.
How can I cool down the stock fast after I finished cooking it?
After you drained the stock you can prepare an ‘ice-bath’ in the sink: place the pot into the ice-bath and stir it regularly. If the ice-bath water gets too warm, change it again. Once the vegetable stock cooled down sufficiently, you can portion it out and refrigerate or freeze it.
Are you ready to prepare the stock now? Let’s do it!
First prepare the ingredients:
50 ml olive or vegetable oil, or canola oil if you prefer a more neutral flavour.
2 large yellow onions (about 500 g), chopped
2 medium size carrots (about 250 g), chopped
2-3 celery (about 250 g), chopped
150g (1 box) of mushrooms, chopped
1-2 medium size leeks (about 250 g), chopped
2 tomatoes (about 125 g), chopped
5 litres of water
6-8 parsley stems
5-6 garlic cloves (about 15 g)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp peppercorns
2 whole cloves
If you’re done, let’s proceed!
Prepare all the ingredients.
Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat, then add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic cloves.
Sweat the vegetables for about 10 minutes but do not brown them!
Add the tomatoes with the water and the sachet with the spices.
Bring to boil then turn down heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove from heat, strain and let it cool.