One of my pet peeves is wasting food, especially healthy food. Although we do compost food waste, it often seems like a lot of cuttings going into the compost could be used for something before their final decomposition. My solution? Homemade vegetable stock or as we like to call it, veggie stock. This kitchen hack is so simple, so easy, you’ll wonder why you never thought of it before.
I totally stumbled upon this idea in a moment of Mommy desperation. One day Preston was sick, so I promised I’d make him his favourite homemade soup. Only I discovered I was out of store bought stock and he was much too sick to take up to the store. When he turned on the watery, puppy dog eyes (oh, the power of those eyes!) I knew I’d move mountains for my kid, and figure out how to make my own stock so he could have his beloved soup.
Through some trial and error I came up with this very simple system that is not only super healthy and tasty, but also helps cut down on waste! And less food waste also means I’m saving money. No more buying expensive soup stock!
I take all the off cuttings and leftovers of my fresh vegetables from my daily meal preparations, cut them into approximately one inch chunks, and put them into a freezer bag. Usually by the end of the week the freezer bag is full and I am ready to make a batch of stock. I also add veggies to the bag that are nearing the end of their shelf life and I know I won’t use before they go off. I just chop them up and toss them in the bag.
These are my favourite vegetables to include:
Onion (skin removed)
Left over carrot sticks
Broccoli and Cauliflower stalks
Celery (especially the centre bits with all the leaves)
This is really adaptable, so play around and see what vegetables you like as a base for your stock.
When you are ready to make your veggie stock, place all the frozen vegetables into a large pot. Add in 5 to 8 garlic cloves and some chopped fresh ginger (I use about a teaspoon worth, but when we are fighting colds I up this to a tablespoon for the extra immune boost). Fresh herbs are a wonderful addition if you have them. Because we live so far North, fresh herbs can be scarce most of the year, instead I’ll often add a few pinches of dry herbs like Thyme, Basil, Rosemary or Oregano. I change it up every time based on my mood.
Toss in 2 or 3 bay leaves.
It is amazing how much salt is in store bought stock. I never realized how much until I started making my own. For a big pot of stock I add about a teaspoon of ground sea salt and half a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. You can always add more salt and pepper to taste later on.
Now here is my secret that takes this really over the top into amazing for flavours: Add a pinch of curry. Yes, I am serious! The flavours just pop making this an absolutely amazing stock to use for cooking and making homemade soups. It doesn’t make it spicy at all, just heightens the flavours. For variation I have also used turmeric or cayenne in place of the curry, but really the curry works the best in my opinion.
Fill the pot with water until the vegetables are well covered. Bring to boil, then turn down to a lazy simmer and let it bubble away for approximately an hour. I’ve left some batches simmering for up to two hours. It makes it a bit stronger but the difference is not significant.
After turning off the heat, let the pot cool for approximately 10 minutes.
~ I need to pause here to say it again. Let the soup cool before straining! I rushed it one day and when the mushy vegetables plopped out I was splashed and burned myself quite badly. Please, let it cool before straining. ~
Then setting a fine mesh strainer (affiliate link for the type I use if you’re curious) over a large bowl, strain out the vegetables. The left over veggie mush can now be composted without any guilt and your homemade stock is ready to use. Easy peasy, less guilt about wasted food, and super healthy. Enjoy!
This is really a fly by the seat of your pants recipe, but for those who like some guidelines, here you go!
Veggie Stock Recipe:
1 Large Freezer Bag of Chopped Veggie Left Overs
5-8 Garlic Cloves
1 Tsp Chopped Ginger
Fresh or dried herbs as desired
2-3 Bay Leaves
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
Pinch of Curry
2 Litres Water
Combine in a large pot, bring to boil, then let simmer for one hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.