For vegetarian soups, stews, and other dishes, such as risotto, vegetable stock is a flavorful alternative to water or meat-based stocks. You can vary the flavor by increasing the amount of garlic, replacing the carrots with parsnips, or changing some of the fresh herbs. This recipe is adapted from the "Martha Stewart's Cooking School" cookbook.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled, half coarsely chopped, the other half kept whole
- 2 large celery stalks, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 medium carrots, unpeeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 8 sprigs basil
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a medium stockpot over medium until hot but not smoking. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add celery, carrots, garlic, and peppercorns; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Pour in enough water to cover vegetables by 1 inch (8 to 10 cups) and add herbs and remaining half onion. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, 1 hour.
Pour stock through a fine sieve into a large bowl or another pot, pressing on vegetables to extract as much flavorful liquid as possible. Discard solids. If not using immediately, cool in an ice-water bath before transferring to airtight containers.