There are so few brands of vegetable stock that are free of tomato, soya, sage, nutmeg, or whatever other forbidden ingredient manufacturers decide to stick in. I know that safe yeast extract spreads can be diluted with water to make a non-meat stock, and some brands of vegetable stock are safe for some of us, but many people are still restricted to making their own. There are simpler versions of vegetable stock than this, but making it like this gives a tasty broth that is okay on it’s own as a clear soup as well as being ideal in any recipe that calls for it.
The quantities you use are up to you – it depends if you want your stock to be strong or mild, if you are using a few tablespoons in another recipe or if you are using it as the base for a soup.
Veggies – use as many different types as you can. Carrots are a must, then consider turnip, swede, beetroot (remembering that traditional red beetroot will turn your stock very pink!), celery, celeriac, fennel, onions, parsnips, any green leafy veg (either leaves or stalks), garden peas and their pods, and/or clean, raw, fresh peelings of any other cookable vegetables EXCEPT potatoes or sweet potatoes. Prepare as lightly as possible – take papery skin from onions, wash any muck off and cut away any seriously damaged bits and leaves from the tops of root veg, but otherwise just chop them up, skin and all, and add to a pan.
Add garlic (if you are making a large panful, use a whole bulb). Don’t peel or slice it, just cut in half or crush it and add it to the pan whole.
Add plenty of whole black peppercorns, bay leaves and as some herbs, preferably fresh. Parsley and chives work well but rosemary, savory, marjoram and thyme would also be good. Don’t worry about taking fresh herbs off the stalks – put them in whole. If you are safe with it, consider also adding a pinch of chilli flakes, or a pinch of ground mace, or some fennel seeds.
Finally, especially if you are more used to stock cubes than freshly made stock, add plenty of salt. No, I know it’s not good for you but the stock will taste like dishwater without salt if you are used to the commercial, salty versions!
Cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil and simmer for at least 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a couple of hours with all veggies and herbs still in the pan.
Strain the cooled stock using a sieve or cloth, throw away the vegetables and herbs and put the clear stock either in the fridge for up to 48 hours, or in tubs/bags in the freezer for use later