Mirepoix Vegetable Stock
Naturally SOS free, Mirepoix Vegetable Stock is a flavorful base to soups, stews and sauces for a wide variety of cuisines.
Mirepoix Vegetable Stock, as the name suggests, starts with the traditional three classic mirepoix ingredients, onions, celery and carrots which gives a full rounded flavor and is perfect for a wide array of soups, sauces, sauteed greens, and all sorts of rice and grain dishes.
Homemade vegetable stock is easy to make and a great way of adding lots of flavor and more nutrients to your dishes. Vegetable stock can be used in place of water in most recipes. The recipe below is a guideline; specific vegetables and amounts can vary greatly. For example, I tend to like more celery and fennel than carrot, but if your taste and or the dish you will be using the stock in needs a sweeter note, then by all means, add more carrots. It’s hard to go wrong, and the more often you make vegetable stock the more you will find the balance of what you like and what works for the dishes you make.
The Vegetables for Mirepoix Vegetable Stock
The main vegetables for this style vegetable stock are the classic mirepoix trio of onions, celery, and carrots. Other aromatic vegetables that suit and enhance this flavor profile are leeks, garlic, and mushrooms. Vegetable and herb stems, the ends, the tops of vegetable parts that may not be suitable for the dish itself are all good for stocks. Freshness of the vegetables you use in the stock is important. If the vegetables aren’t good enough to eat or use in your dishes than they won’t be good for stock either.
There are lots of other aromatic vegetables that add flavor and depth. Fennel is an amazing addition. The first time I added fennel, I noticed a strong licorice-like scent it put in the house and thought the flavor of fennel would overwhelm the stock. Once the stock had simmered, the licorice taste mellowed and the fennel added more depth than without the fennel. Now, I almost always use fennel and find this style stock a little lacking of flavor without the fennel. Use the fennel stalks and the outer layer of the white bulb part in the stock simmer and save some of the fronds (the spiky green leafy parts) for the end to brighten flavor.
Vegetables to be Aware of and Vegetables to Avoid
Carrot peels can be too earthy tasting for stock, so I peel the carrots before adding. The outer papery peel of onion will add a dark golden color and may not be appropriate for the dish you make. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are not good additions to vegetable stock. These vegetables release sulfur compounds when cooked too long causing an unpleasant taste and emitting an unpleasant smell into the house that is hard to get rid of. That said, on occasion I add broccoli stalks (not the flower part) during the last 5 minutes only of simmering so they add nutrients, but don’t become sulfuric. The leaves on celery stalks should also be avoided as they add a bitter and somewhat unpleasant taste. But, celery leaves taste great raw and fun to eat them as you prepare the stock.
Spices and Herbs
Dried whole spices and dried herbs also enhance the flavor of vegetable stock. Whole black pepper kernels, fennel seeds, bay leaves all add good flavor. While cumin isn’t typically used in this style vegetable stock, a small amount of cumin will add depth and doesn’t have too strong of a cumin taste after it has simmered the full amount of time. Dried herbs like thyme and marjoram are lovely in vegetable stock along with a couple bay leaves. Fresh parsley stems, add a nice herbal touch too.
Making the Mirepoix Vegetable Stock
Vegetable preparation for stock is quick and easy. Stock can be as simple as rough cutting the vegetables, put them in the pot with the water, bring to a boil and simmer. This will give a nice stock. There are a few additional steps you can do that don’t add much time or effort. To extract more flavor you can either cut the vegetable pieces smaller and or give them a light bash with the back of a knife before throwing them in the stock pot with the water.
Simmering time to extract full flavor is about 45 minutes with smaller vegetable cuts and up to 1 hour and 15 minutes with larger vegetable cuts. Longer simmering is not necessary and too long of simmering dulls out the flavor rather than deepening the flavor. Depending on your tap water, the water should be filtered or boiled so not to give an off taste. I like to boil the water so it is already hot and gives you a jump start on bringing the vegetables and water to a boil before simmering.
I find a good ratio of vegetables to water is about 1 to 1. If you are using 10 cups of vegetables, then about 12–14 cups of water will be right since some of the water will evaporate during the simmering. You can also just look at the pot, if it is filled about 1/3 with the vegetables, then fill the pot with water to a little above the half way point on the pot.
Extract Deeper Flavor
For a deeper flavor, you can lightly caramelize the onions, garlic, fennel and carrots before adding the water and the rest of the vegetables. To caramelize, preheat the stock pot and put in the onion and garlic pieces until they become golden brown and fragrant, stirring as needed. Do not allow the garlic to get dark or burn. Even a small amount of burned bits can ruin the taste of the stock. If that happens, you will want to wash the pot of the burned bits and start over.
Once the onion and garlic have become fragrant and lightly golden, add the water and the rest of the vegetables and spices. After the simmering is done, turn off the burner and allow the stock to cool. To brighten the stock flavor and fill the house with a lovely fragrant herbal scent I like to add fresh herbs like parsley leaves and fennel fronds. The mirepoix vegetable stock is now ready to use or prepare for storing.
Storing the Mirepoix Vegetable Stock
To store in the refrigerator or freezer, leave the vegetable stock in the pot and allow to cool to near room temperature. This will take about 2 hours. Then strain into a large bowl leaving the vegetables and sediment behind in the strainer. Write the the date on the storage containers, if using a sharpie or similar pen write the date before adding the stock. The vegetable stock will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator stored in glass or ceramic containers and 3–6 months in the freezer using freezer-safe containers.
Tools Used in this Recipe
- large cutting board
- chef or Santoku knife
- vegetable peeler
- large stock pot and lid
- clothes pin
- colander /strainer
- storing containers
- 2 cups onion parts (the ends, the top white layer)
- 4-6 garlic cloves
- 4-6 celery stalks (the wide parts and tops no leaves)
- 1-2 carrots (the ends and some whole if neededno peels)
- 3-4 fennel stalks and the tough outer layer save the fronds for the end
- 10 leaves stems of parsley save thefor the end
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole black pepper kernels
- 1/2-1 tbls whole cumin
- 1 tsp thyme and or marjoram
- 12 cups filtered water or boiled water
- 1 cup fresh herbs like parsley fennel fronds and thyme
- Rinse all of the vegetables and vegetable parts you will be using and rough cut to the size you want.
- To extract more flavor and a little quicker, bash the vegetable parts lightly with the back of a knife.
- Preheat the stock pot to medium. Add in the onion parts and garlic (fennel and carrots) are also fine to add at this point. Carmalize them until they become fragrant and parts are golden in color, 2–4 minutes. Stir as needed to keep from burning. (This step is optional. You can skip this step and still get a wonderful tasting stock)
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the pot.
- Pour the filtered or boiled water in the pot.
- Place the lid on with a clothes pin between the pot and the lid to allow some steam to escape. Otherwise it will boil over the pot.
- Allow to simmer a minimum of 45 minutes and up to 1.25 hours. The vegetables will look faded when the extraction is complete. Turn off the burner.
- At this point adding a handful of fresh herbs will brighten the flavor and a fresh herby scent will fill the kitchen.