I want to share a word or two on the difference between broth and stock. I have always considered stock to be a long simmered liquid with as much of the concentrated flavors and proteins dissolved into the liquid. I have also heard people say that broths are made by cooking the meat and the bones while stock is exclusively made from bones. Still others have suggested that stocks are unseasoned and broths contain enough seasoning to be palatable on their own. There is no clear answer to the difference either. An article on The Kitchn supports the idea that broth is seasoned and stock is not. Wikipedia says that stock is thin and clear where broth contains remaining bits of meat and vegetables. Still other sites such as MarthaStewart.com support my idea that stock is a more intense extracted ingredient. For the home cook I’m not sure it really matters though. I think that home cooks can use either term knowing that they are using a liquid made by simmering meat and/or vegetables with water to make a flavored base for soups, sauces and many other uses.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]For the purposes of this blog and my recipes I use broth to refer to store bought and stock to refer to homemade. Simple, right?[/cryout-pullquote]
I understand keeping a box or two of broth in the cupboard. I buy organic chicken broth by the case from Costco. For weeknight meals I usually just reach for the boxed stuff. After all, having chicken or beef bones on hand and enough time to render out the necessary flavors isn’t really doable for that Tuesday night chicken with pan sauce or the Thursday night stir-fry.
However, when it comes to soup, it’s a different story. A good soup is a labor of love. Love requires homemade stock. I LOVE making soup. You get to build flavors, a layer at a time, and the end result is only as good as the stock you use to make it. All soups should use good quality stock. That goes doubly for vegetarian soups. Store bought vegetable broths lack the variety of vegetables and aromatics to end up with a flavorful soup. How many times have you had a vegetarian soup that lacks depth of flavor? Well, that’s probably because of bad broth.
Vegetable stock does not take hours to make. From start to finish you can make a very good vegetable stock in an hour. As long as you carefully wash and clean your vegetables, there is no need to peel them. You also get to tailor your stock for the recipe you are making. An extra clove or two of garlic might make the difference in your vegetarian chili, and a handful of fennel fronds can elevate your potage. My recipe here is a guideline, with instructions on how to change it up based on your own tastes and needs.
My version of vegetable stock is an amalgamation of Deborah Madison’s recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and the Basic Light Vegetable Stock recipe from Moosewood. Both of these recipes make a wonderful stock, but my version allows more wiggle room to make the stock your own. I never salt my stock. I wait and flavor the soup or sauce I am using instead, but when I am testing a stock to see if it is flavorful enough, I’ll pull out a few tablespoons and sprinkle a few grains of salt in it to taste.
This stock is rich, flavorful and full of depth. Unlike store-bought broths, this stock will stand up to any recipe calling for chicken broth. It is so easy that it doesn’t seem right to buy the over-priced boxes of vegetable broth. Try it, you’ll see. Enjoy!
- 2 quarts water
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 large carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 stalk celery including leaves, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 fennel bulb or tops, cut into 2 inch segments
- 1 cup mushrooms stems and tops
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 4 stems of fresh parsley including full stems
- 4 allspice berries
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs sage leaves
- 4 juniper berries
- Carefully wash and cut up all the vegetables. Combine the cold water and all the ingredients in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer until the vegetables loose a good amount of the color and are very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain the vegetables off the liquid and discard (or compost). The stock will keep in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months.
- You can use many different vegetables in the broth based on your own tastes. However, stay away from vegetables in the cabbage family such as cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower.