Makes 4 quarts
2 large yellow or white onions
3 - 4 carrots
3 - 4 celery ribs
8 - 10 white button mushrooms
3 - 4 cloves of garlic
4 - 5 springs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
4 quarts water
Optional: parsley stems, vegetable trimmings, leeks, fennel,
tomatoes, potatoes and parsnips
The beautiful thing about vegetable stock is that as long as you have a similar amount of each kind of vegetable you use, you can't go wrong. Just make sure you're not too heavy on one ingredient so that the stock will be balanced.
Feel free to use saved vegetable trimmings and add them as well.
Make sure the vegetables are clean - there is no need to peel them. The only thing I do is trim the roots of the onions if they are particularly hairy. Chop the vegetables into small, even chunks and either wrap the thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns in cheesecloth or let them loose.
What's next is your choice. The simplest road is to throw everything together in a pot, cover the vegetables with water and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Alternatively, you can sauté the veggies in a bit of oil or butter first or even roast them briefly in a 425 F oven. Sauteeing or roasting your vegetables will add more flavor to the stock, but simply simmering them without any other effort will impart great flavor as well. If you choose to sauté, make sure to just soften the vegetables over low heat without adding any color. To roast, put the mirepoix (vegetables) in a large roasting pan or a couple of sheet trays with a touch of oil and toss. Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, stirring half way through until the veggies are softened but not browned. Let the vegetables cool a bit and then dd them to a stockpot with the bouquet (thyme, bay and peppercorns), cover with 4 quarts of water and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Keep in mind sautéing and roasting will produce a darker broth.
When the stock is ready, strain it through a cheesecloth lined strainer into a clean pot that is set in an ice bath. If you are not going to use all of the stock immediately, cool to room temperature and store in sealed containers in the fridge for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 1 month.