Basic Cooking Stocks

soup stocks


While a good stock takes simmering time it really does not require a lot of your work time. Stocks come in various forms the most common being, vegetable, chicken, meat (beef, veal, poultry) and fish.

Cooking Stock Terms

Stock - In the most basic terms, stock is the strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasoning ingredients in water. Most soups begin with a stock of some kind, and many sauces are based on a reduction.

Brown Stock -A brown stock is made by browning bones, vegetables and other ingredients before they're cooked in the liquid.

Reduction - A culinary term means, to boil a liquid (usually stock, wine or a sauce mixture) rapidly until the volume is reduced by evaporation, thereby thickening the consistency and intensifying the flavor. Such a mixture is sometimes referred to as a reduction.

large stockpot
Stockpot - A tall pot with a lid used for preparing stocks.  Stocks frequently require room for many types of ingredients and space for lots of water.  The pots come in a variety of sizes from 8 quarts to 20 quarts.  A 12 quart stockpot is a good average size.  A nice heavy pot such as Calphalon's anodized works well.  Get one with a see-through lid if possible.


Many stocks use excess vegetable trimmings and meat scraps that might otherwise end up in the compost pile or garbage. Good quality purchased stocks are expensive in comparison and the less quality stocks can't compare to the fresh. Saving trimmings for stock is good for your household budget and for the environment too.

Purchase Premade Stocks

Club Sauce - Online resource for all types of stocks, sauces, demi glaze (demi-glace) barbecue, roasting, grilling, condiments, jams, Asian stir fry, seasonings, rubs, for the home chef as well as for the professional.  Manischewitz - is one of the best brands of canned chicken broth. Available in the Jewish section of most major grocery stores.

How To Store Stocks

Refrigerate - Refer to the specific stock but in general keep fresh stock refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Freeze - Place stock in containers that suit the size of your average need. Usually 1 cup is a good size.  Use proper freezer quality containers. For best quality use within one month.

Condensed Chicken Stock

From: The Crocodile's Cookbook "Bounty of the Americas".

This basic chicken stock recipe is highly condensed so only a small amount is required in comparison to commercially prepared stocks.  The flavor is excellent and the stock stores for months in the freezer.

This recipe compared to regular (or purchased, canned) stock:
One heaping tablespoon = 1 cup of regular stock

5 pounds chicken bones and trimmings (ask for this from your butcher)
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 stalk celery
2 onions
2 heads garlic (slice whole heads in half, don't peel)

Bouquet Garni (optional but adds a nice flavor)
Wrap in cheesecloth and secure with kitchen string:
1/2 bunch of flat Italian parsley
1 pinch of thyme
10 peppercorns

Put all of the ingredients (no need to chop anything) in a large stock pot, vegetables on the bottom, bones on top, and cover with cold water. Put the pot on low heat, cover with a lid, and simmer (don't now allow to boil which will produce a cloudy stock) for 8 hours. This will result in about 3 gallons of stock. Strain the stock and refrigerate the liquid unit the grease hardens on top. Remove the grease cap and put the stock (it should be a soft gelatin) back on the stove in a clean pot. Bring it to a boil using high heat (it is ok if the stock boils because the fat has been removed). When the stock boils, remove the lid, reduce the heat by half, and allow the liquid to reduce to one quart. (This will produce a lot of moisture in the air so make sure to use your cooking vent or open a window). When the stock is reduced to one quart, remove it from the stove.

Because the chicken stock has been so reduce, it will become very thick and gelatinous when cooled. Pour it into cup-sized freezer containers and freeze. Now you will have stock ready whenever you need it. The frozen stock will keep for months. Chicken stock can be used in any recipe for chicken, beef, or pork that requires stock.

Fresh Vegetable Stock

From Trattoria by Mary Beth Clark
Makes: 5 cups


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
3/5 cup sliced leeks
1 small clove garlic
1 small red Spanish onion (cut in half)
3/4 pounds fresh white mushrooms, cut in half
8 cups cold water
1 small plum (Roma style) tomato
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
4 fresh flat leaf parsley sprigs
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (pepper looses it's flavor very quickly, fresh ground is best) Instructions


Warm the olive oil over low heat in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the carrot, celery and leeks and sauté unit the leeks are slightly translucent about 3 -4 minutes.

Add the garlic, onion and mushrooms and sauté until the onion is slight translucent about 2 minutes.

Pour in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Us a large spoon and skim off any scum that forms on the surface if necessary. Add the tomato, thyme, marjoram and parsley. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered until the flavors are blend about 1 hour.

Strain the sock through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or muslin into a clean contain. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Stock can be used immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to one month.

Fish Stock

A basic fish stock recipe that makes about 4 cups of stock.

4 pounds fresh fish bones, heads, trimmings of white fish such as halibut, whiting, flounder or fresh or cooked shellfish shells, shrimp heads, tails, etc.
  • 2 thinly sliced onions
  • 12 - 16 parsley stems (don't use the leaves as they will cloud the broth)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups dry white wine

Cold water to cover the ingredients

Combine all ingredients in a 6 - 8 quart stock pot. Bring to a simmer, skim, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Store refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze for up to one month.

Need A Quick Fish Stock?

You can make this quick fish stock recipe to use in an emergency when you don't have time to deal with a lot of fish parts.

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.