This is a mildly flavoured stock. Essentially, it is an onion-garlic broth. It is used as the base for soups and other dishes throughout the week. It makes about 3 litres in my 7 litre pressure cooker. I don’t add strong tasting vegetables at this point because I want to retain the versatility of the mild flavour. Broccoli or anything from the cabbage family, asparagus, turnip, beets are avoided at this stage. Potatoes or their peels will make it cloudy. When I make a soup, all those vegetables (and more) can be added. This is also why we never add salt at this stage – salt is added to the final dish and this is just the starter.
Stock is a blessedly imprecise experience. Use what you have on hand. Feel free to add or delete depending on what is in your fridge at the moment. I usually make my vegetable stock in a pressure cooker but I’ve included directions for the stove top in an open stock pot for those who prefer those appliances.
4-5 large yellow onions, cut in quarters, yellow skin left on
1 head of garlic, cut in half through the cloves
2-3 carrots, scrubbed but not peeled
3-4 stalks of celery – some leaves left on but not too many (bitter)
Dark green trimmings from leeks if they are on hand
2 bay leaves
A jalepeno pepper – remove the seeds and inner membranes if you’re not a “heat” fan
Several sprigs of thyme (or use some dried thyme)
1 large sprig of rosemary (or dried rosemary)
6 dried shitake mushrooms (available from any of the Oriental grocery stores)
Several sprigs of parsley if I have it on hand
Pressure cooker: add water to the maximum fill line, close up the vessel. Heat until it comes to pressure and cook for 30-40 minutes. Allow the cooker to lose heat/pressure naturally. When contents are cool enough to handle, strain out the vegetables and discard them!! (All the taste was just cooked out of them and they’re mush. Compost it – fresh veggies for the soup).
Stock pot on the stove: depending on the size of your pot, you may want to reduce the quantities by half. Add enough water to fill your pot at least 2/3’s full and not more than 3/4s full. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Remove the lid and let it simmer another 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Once cool, strain the vegetables from it and like the previous version, toss those soggy now-tasteless vegetables.
Variation: Toss your vegetables in a bit of olive oil and roast in the oven at 400o oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the roasted vegetables to pressure cooker or stock pot and proceed from there.
Tip – if you have more than your family will use in a week, freeze some in ice cube trays. Pop them out when frozen into a Ziploc bag for use in other dishes. Since there are no preservatives in this, it can go sour in the fridge. Take it out every second day and bring to a rolling boil for 3 minutes to keep it fresh. What isn’t used inside a week should be discarded.