How to Make Flavourful Vegetable Stock

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 17 votes

How to make flavourful vegetable stock for soups, stews, risotto, and all kinds of other dishes! Having a delicious stock base makes all the difference in vegan cooking. Chopping the vegetables small and browning them in the pot boosts the flavour and makes for a short 30 minute simmer time.

A head-on shot shows two jars of vegetable stock on a rough wooden cutting board. Sprigs of thyme, black peppercorns, a ladle, and a pot of salt are seen to the side.

Having a flavourful vegetable stock is fundamental to vegan cooking! It features heavily in vegan soup recipes, stews, risotto, brothy beans, pasta, and all kinds of other dishes. My method of making vegetable stock has a few extra little tricks that boost flavour and cut down on overall simmering time. I’m so devoted to this method, that I opened the soup segment in my cookbook with a breakdown. Good stock really is key.

An overhead shot shows ingredients used in vegetable stock: a leek, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and black peppercorns; all on a rough wooden cutting board.
I prefer whole vegetables for my stock, rather than scraps. I use: onions, carrots, celery, leeks, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and black peppercorns.

Why I don’t use scraps in my vegetable stock:

  • Vegetable stock forms the backbone of a soup and so many other dishes. I want it to taste really good on its own. We’re aiming for maximum versatility with the flavour base as well. I stick with these ingredients for my recipe: onions, carrots, celery, leeks, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and sometimes mushrooms.
  • I’ve seen folks save all of their veggie scraps in a bag/container in the freezer and then they make stock out of that. Even if those scraps contained only the vegetables that I prefer for this, once the veg thaws, it will turn overly wet, which means we won’t get the flavour boost from caramelization.
  • Some vegetables just don’t taste great in a stock! Cruciferous vegetables will get funky tasting, and seemingly mild vegetables like zucchini, green beans, and bell peppers can get bitter if simmered for too long.
  • Ultimately, if it doesn’t add, it subtracts! This is my rule of thumb for most recipes.

How to boost flavour:

  • Cut the vegetables roughly, but on the smaller side. The smaller pieces and increased edges on the vegetables allows for more caramelization.
  • I brown the onions thoroughly in hot olive oil for about 5 minutes. This adds so much flavour! We also sauté the carrots, celery, leeks, and smashed garlic cloves. Getting the caramelization this early on in the process allows us to cut down on simmering time.
  • Use fresh herbs like thyme and parsley, and also dried bay leaves.
  • I salt the stock at the end. I’m a big fan of seasoning all of my foods in layers for more pronounced flavour at the end. Having a full flavoured base is ideal with any recipe you’re adding stock to! Of course, you can leave the stock unsalted if you wish.

Once you’ve achieved deep caramelization of the vegetables–you’ll see it on the bottom of the pot–you add a big splash of water. Then you stir and scrape the bottom of the pot as fast as you can to get all of those brown bits that will be released by the water and heat. Welcome to flavour town! ;). Then you can add the rest of the water and bring it up to a boil.

An overhead shot shows water being poured into the vegetable stock pot that is filled with vegetables and herbs.
Pour in the rest of the water and stir. We already have a golden colour from browning the vegetables!
An overhead shot shows a finished pot of vegetable stock with the cooked vegetables and herbs yet to be strained out. A ladle is sticking out of the pot.
The stock only needs 30 minutes of simmering because we took our time browning the vegetables first. Of course, you could simmer it longer if you wish! The finished colour should be a deep, rich brown.

How to store and freeze vegetable stock:

  • Once you’ve strained the finished stock, allow it to cool completely. Then you can transfer it to sealable jars and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
  • To freeze, just remember to leave about an inch of space at the top of the jar/container before placing a lid on top and freezing. Liquid expands when frozen! Vegetable stock keeps in the freezer for up to 6 months.
An overhead image shows a hand liberally seasoning a bowl of vegetable stock with a ladle sticking out.
I like to add salt to the finished stock when it’s still warm so that it will dissolve. When I’m cooking soup, I want all of the components to be flavourful and vegetable stock is no exception.
A head-on shot shows two jars of vegetable stock on a rough wooden cutting board. Sprigs of thyme, black peppercorns, a ladle, and a pot of salt are seen to the side.
Store your stock in jars and keep it in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can freeze the stock for up to 6 months.

Vegan soup recipes for your stock:

Flavourful Vegetable Stock

How to make flavourful vegetable stock for soups, stews, risotto, and all kinds of other dishes! Having a delicious stock base makes all the difference in vegan cooking. Chopping the vegetables small and browning them in the pot boosts the flavour and allows for a shorter 30 minute simmer time.
5 from 17 votes
A head-on shot shows two jars of vegetable stock on a rough wooden cutting board. Sprigs of thyme, black peppercorns, a ladle, and a pot of salt are seen to the side.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 2 LITRES

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, rough chop
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chop
  • 2 sticks celery, rough chop
  • 1 leek, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4-5 sprigs thyme
  • 4-5 sprigs parsley
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 cups water
  • sea salt, to taste

Notes

  • If you’re making something mushroom-y with your stock, 1-2 cups of mushroom stems is great in this stock. Add them with the leeks and garlic in step 4.
  • I like to add salt to my stock because I’m a big fan of seasoning soups/all dishes in layers. You can simply leave it out if you like!

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Swirl it around.
  • Add the onions and sauté, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until you have deep brown edges, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and celery. Keep sautéing and stirring until the celery is bright green, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped leeks and garlic and sauté until leeks are bright green, about another 3 minutes.
  • Add the thyne, parsley, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Give it all a big stir.
  • Add a big splash of water and, using the back of your spoon, scrape up all the brown bits and caramelization on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the remaining water and stir. Place the lid on top, slightly askew. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Strain the stock, discarding the solids. Season with salt at this point if you like. Pour the vegetable stock into jars and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
20/12/2022 (Last Updated 05/01/2024)
Posted in: autumn, basics, carrots, earthy, gluten free, grain-free, mushrooms, nut free, refined sugar-free, salty, soup, spring, summer, sweet, vegan, winter

10 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Joan

    I always save and use the scraps for my stocks.
    I do not use the root end of vegetables as they may hide dirt in them and no Cruciferous or soft vegetables.
    The biggest difference is that I pressure cook the scraps for 3 hrs and never add spices because I want to stock to take on the flavour of the dish that I am making.
    Pre spiced stock can interfere with the flavour of dishes that are not compatible to the stock spices.

  • Krista

    5 stars
    This was such a perfect and easy recipe to follow. It brought back so many good memories for me as the broth reminded me of a vegetable soup my grandmother made.

  • Jennie

    5 stars
    Your cookbook is the most well-worn and oft used in my collection and the main reason is this stock recipe (and the super easy almond milk cheat! Game changer). I make it about once every two weeks and have it almost memorized.

    One addition I make is add an apple core for a touch of sweetness. I usually add it along with the parsnips, or in place of the parsnips if I don’t have access to them.

    I picked this up from watching asian stock making videos, as I turn a lot of this stock into miso soup/asian style soups.

    Also when are you releasing another cookbook?! :)

    • Laura Wright

      Jennie,
      I love the apple core idea–thank you for sharing that! I will try it next time. I am slowly thinking about another cookbook :)
      -L

  • lowandslow

    5 stars
    We can`t afford to use the premium parts of veg to make stock,instead we freeze scraps.When we have enough that`s when we make stock,just no cruciferous veg.b/c of the off smell and flavor.

    • lowandslow

      5 stars
      BTW an extra rich stock can be achieved by reducing your stock til it`s as you like it.

  • Andrew

    5 stars
    Wonderful stock. So versatile. Only addition I would make is a few dried Ancho or Guajillo (what the heck add them both) pepper. Dry sauté before adding

    • Laura Wright

      That sounds like such a delicious addition!
      -L

  • Val

    5 stars
    This stock is a game changer! I’ve been making this recipe for a few years and I always make sure I have some in the freezer. This stock adds so much depth to every recipe I use it in. If I could pick one skill/recipe that has made the biggest difference in the dishes I cook, it would be making and using this stock. So good!

  • Gina

    5 stars
    Great post, and important info for serious, or aspiring, cooks. Thanks for sharing this veg stock recipe, which sounds very well-balanced. From my years of cooking experience, I agree with you re: cruciferous veg in stock (or in a vegetable soup…leave them out; they deserve their own soup recipes, where they can be the star). I am a huge fan of leeks–they feature in my veg soup recipe–so am glad to see leek in your stock recipe. Look forward to making this recipe, which sounds just right.

    PS: An important reason to make our own veg stock: Veg stock cubes/bouillon cubes, or powder, are most often excessively high in sodium, and nearly always contain palm oil –why?!–and there are no good organic options that I can find. Thanks, again.