I love making my own stock. I love chopping up an entire leek and an entire fennel bulb with greens attached and just tossing it in a pot. I love not peeling the onion. I love having just that much more control over the subtle flavors of a special soup.
This is a basic vegetable stock recipe. You can and should use what you have lying around, begging to be used. Celery a little wimpy? Forgot to use that bunch of parsley you bought last week? Toss it in. Organic veggies mean you don't need to worry about peeling. As Ingrid, my almost-7-year-old would say, "Easy Peasy lemon squeezy."
Try making your own stock, I know you'll love it.
2 TB olive oil
1/8 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed (use side of chef's knife)
10 fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
few gratings fresh nutmeg
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 med yellow onion, chopped (no need to remove skin)
2 med carrots, chopped
3 whole celery stalks, chopped (including leaves)
1 fennel bulb, chopped (greens, too)
1 bunch parsley, chopped (reserving 1/2 c. for soup garnish)
1 entire leek, chopped
Heat olive oil in large stock pot. Add peppercorns, cardamom, fennel seeds, rosemary and nutmeg. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add garlic, onions, carrots and celery. Saute until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add fennel, parsley and leek. Stir and sauté until coated in oil and leaves have wilted some, about 2 minutes.
Add 8 cups filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for several hours, or overnight in the refrigerator, to allow flavors to fully develop.
When ready to use, strain through a colander, then a fine mesh sieve. Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, or freeze. During times when we were really into making stocks, we'd measure out 2 cups servings into ziplock baggies and stack them in the freezer. Ice cube trays work well, too.