A simple vegetable stock can be the basis for a quick and easy meal such as soup, broth, stew or risotto, or even used to add flavour to cooking grains before making a salad from them. Getting a good flavour balance in your stock is key: sweetness from carrots, acidity from fennel and celery and depth from onions and leeks, with a bouquet garni to bring it all alive. We make all our vegetable soups with fresh stock, using up the trimmings. We also ask our chefs to save parsley stalks for the pot, as these can bring a surprising amount of flavour. Only use fresh vegetables for stock, as old vegetables will impair the taste. Be sure to slice the vegetables as they will give up their flavours more readily than if they are whole or merely halved.
Makes 1.5 litres
2 celery sticks
1 leek, or the green tops of 2
1 fennel bulb
1 bouquet garni
a few parsley stalks
1 tsp white or black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
Wash and slice all the vegetables
Place the vegetables in your largest plan with the herbs and spices.
Cover the vegetables with cold water (you should use about 2.5 litres) and bring to a very slow boil.
Partly cover and cook gently – so the water is just moving – for one and a half hours. Cool and pass through a sieve.
If not using straight away, store covered in your fridge for up to four days or freeze in useful quantities rather than one big container.
Using an ice cube tray to freeze is also a handy way to store this or any stock, so that you can use just the small amount you require.