Hey, you. I see you there, sneaking your cart into the soup aisle of your supermarket. You thought you could furtively grab a few boxes of stock off the shelf without anyone noticing. You know you shouldn't, but your mind is filled with excuses.
"It's so much easier! Who will know the difference?"
Stop. Put down the boxes. I know that store-bought stock is tempting. The truth is I've been right where you're standing, and in moments of weakness I've made the same mistake you are about to. But I'm here to tell you that it doesn't need to be this way. Homemade stock is infinitely more delicious than anything you can buy, especially if you add a pack of gelatin to the pot. It's cheaper, too, and easier than you might think. So whether you need chicken, beef, or vegetable stock—or even a fish stock or ramen broth—I have you covered. Keep reading for 13 recipes that will keep you from ever needing to buy a box of stock again.
It doesn't get much simpler or more versatile than a classic chicken stock. We make ours with whatever chicken parts we have on hand and a handful of aromatics (dicing them gives the stock more flavor).
Most people probably only make turkey stock after Thanksgiving (if ever), but this recipe is good enough to break out year-round. Roasting the turkey bones, browning the vegetables, and adding a couple tablespoons of tomato paste gives the stock a deeper, richer flavor.
Fish stock doesn't have the same versatility as chicken stock, but there is no better way to maximize the flavor of seafood soups. The technique is basically the same, but we stick with white and green aromatics to preserve the soup's light color. Washing the fish bones isn't a must, but it will make for a more delicate stock.
Dashi is one of the most important ingredients in Japanese cooking. You can buy it in powdered form, but there's no reason to given all you need to make it is dried kombu and bonito flakes (both of which should be available in the Asian section of any reasonably well-stocked supermarket).
As much as we like big involved recipes, sometimes shortcuts are great, too. This easy vegetable stock is plenty flavorful for most uses and comes together in just a half-hour with three main ingredients: carrots, onions, and garlic. From that base you can add as much complexity as you want—celery and fresh herbs are great additions.
Without meat, vegetable stock relies on a variety of ingredients for richness and depth of flavor. A mix of alliums—yellow onion, leek tops, and garlic—is a good start, and herbs add to the aroma. You can make a decent stock stopping there, but for an extra hit of umami, we like to add kombu and dried mushrooms.
Pressure Cooker Stocks
While you can certainly make great chicken stock in a regular pot, a pressure cooker is the best tool in terms of both flavor and speed. All you have to do is throw all your ingredients in the cooker, cover with water, and let cook at pressure for 45 minutes before skimming and straining. If you want the clearest stock possible, let the pressure dissipate slowly instead of using the release valve.
Like with the stovetop version, pressure cooker brown stock is made by roasting the bones, browning the aromatics, and adding tomato paste. One extra tip for all chicken stocks is to throw a few chicken feet into the mix for extra collagen.
The pressure cooker is a nice time-saver for chicken stock, but for beef stock it's practically a must—making beef stock on the stove can require 12 hours of simmering the beef parts and aromatics! With a pressure, you can cut the whole process down to five hours.
Tonkotsu broth is an all-day affair, but the reward for your work is one of the richest, most porky broths imaginable. While cleaning the bones is optional when making fish stock, with tonkotsu it's vital to blanch and rinse the pork bones to keep the soup from turning brown.
Tori paitan is tonkotsu's chicken-based cousin, and made right it is similarly rich and creamy. We use a pressure cooker to break down a chicken carcass, which becomes so soft that you can pulverize it with an immersion blender. The finished broth is versatile enough to combine with a range of seasonings—my favorite is miso tare.
Clear, soy-sauce based chintan shoyu ramen doesn't get the same attention in the States as milky tonkotsu, but you shouldn't overlook it. A traditional shoyu broth takes ages to make, but a pressure cooker can get you a similar flavor in less than an hour.
Udon is traditionally served in dashi, but if you're looking to make a vegan version then the bonito flakes used to make dashi are out. A broth made with only kombu is pretty bland, so we turn to a variety of mushrooms to round out the flavor. You only need the scraps from the fresh mushrooms, so save the rest to fry up as a topping for the soup.
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