A vegetable stock can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, but the essential base ingredients are onion, garlic, celery, carrots, salt and a bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs tied together – at its most basic, just bay leaves and thyme).
For the more adventurers, you can add white or black peppercorns, star anise, fennel seeds, leeks, mushrooms (dried or fresh), a small glass of white wine, and a splash of sherry. To the bouquet garni you could add rosemary and parsley stalks.
For a more Mediterranean stock, swap out half the carrots and celery and add in 2 salad tomatoes and 1 red or yellow pepper. And, for the bouquet garni, use basil stalks, 2 sprigs of oregano and a bay leaf.
Makes 1 litre of stock.
4 Celery Sticks – washed and cut roughly into 2cm pieces
1 Large Onion – skin removed and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
2 Carrots – skin-on, washed and roughly cut into 1cm slices
2 Garlic Cloves – finely chopped
5g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Bouquet Garni: 2 dried bay leaves and 2 sprigs of thyme tightly together with food-safe string
2 Litres of Water
6 White or Black Whole Peppercorns
Add all the ingredients to a deep saucepan, add a pinch of salt and cover with the 2 litres of water (If using wine remove the equivalent amount of water). Bring to the boil then simmer for 2 hours, topping up with extra water if required to keep the vegetables covered. Once cooked, smash up the vegetables to release all the flavours and pass it through a fine sieve into a bowl. You can make the stock up to 1 litre with extra water if needs be and add extra salt to taste. If you keep it in the fridge it will last for up to a week, but my tip is to freeze some in ice cube trays. They’ll be fine for up to six months in the freezer and will come in very handy for sauces, risottos and more.