I had to do some catering recently to accommodate all sorts of different diets. I quite often prepare a vegetarian meal for us here, but I don't need to worry about using a chicken stock if I think the dish needs it. However, I had to make a cassoulet for the vegetarian contingent at the party and of course I couldn't use my chicken stock. I finally capitulated to the advertising by Marco Pierre White for his Knorr stockpots. I added two little jelly pots to my beautiful cassoulet made of organic vegetables and freshly soaked and boiled pulses and it is safe to say they destroyed the entire dish! They are poisoned with salt and I had seasoned as I usually would do. They have a deeply artificial, chemical flavour, created in a laboratory. You get the idea? For every "flavour" the first ingredient listed is fat, be it vegetable fat or chicken fat. I am not sure about anyone else but I have never put fat in any stock and in fact skim it off.
I decided to make some vegetarian stock for my freezer stock-pile so to speak. I generally have chicken and veal stock frozen into ice cubes and bagged.
When you buy organic vegetables such as onion, carrot, celery, and herbs such as parsley, save the outer skins and/or peelings and stalks until you have a decent quantity and put in a pot with some water. You can add the peelings from squash and even swede but not the actual flesh. Fennel peelings are good too. Do not add cabbage until the very end as if you boil cabbage there is a chemical reaction which gives that horrible smell and taste of overcooked institutional boiled cabbage. Simmer gently for about an hour and then strain. Bring to the boil and reduce by half. Cool and refrigerate. I find it really handy to freeze in ice cube trays and then next day remove and store in zip-lock bags.
For chicken stock I use the carcass of the chicken and all the bones saved off plates, add your vegetable peelings/stalks as above and simmer for about 3 hours. Strain and reduce as above and then freeze.
For beef or veal stock I roast the bones for about an hour or until they have been browned it a hot oven. Then make as chicken stock.
For fish use the bones but also the skins and simmer for less time usually an hour is more than enough.
The taste of stock made like this is really so much better than anything you can buy. The preparation time is minimal. The only drawback is steam in your kitchen however if you are lucky enough to have an Aga or similar you can make stock overnight in your oven.
Homemade Stock Recipe Vegetable Stock Meat Stock