The one-ingredient vegetable stock I swear by

This week's Big Little Recipe can be swapped in anywhere a recipe calls for vegetable or chicken stock

Published December 9, 2021 11:01AM (EST)

 (Julia Gartland / Food52)
(Julia Gartland / Food52)

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Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer — not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. 

Most vegetable stock recipes call for more than one vegetable. There are onions, carrots, and celery. But also leeks, fennel, and cabbage. Maybe scallions, parsnips, and mushrooms. And yes, I could go on.

But just as chicken stock recipes almost always call for more than just chicken, vegetable stock recipes almost always call for more than just vegetables. Supposedly, you need aromatics (like ginger and garlic), herbs (like parsley and thyme), spices (like black pepper and coriander), and umami boosters (like tomato paste and dried mushrooms).

Except you don't. You don't need a laundry list of ingredients. You just need one confident ingredient, plus water and salt.

I tested this a couple years back with chicken and ended up with the chickeniest chicken broth of my life. Then, for my cookbook, "Big Little Recipes," I developed even more one-ingredient stocks (seven, to be exact).

Not to pick favorites, but this one is my favorite. It comes together with a couple heads of garlic and an hour on the stove.

While over 20 cloves might seem audacious from afar, it's the secret to turning a pot of tap water into liquid gold. When raw, garlic is sharp, like lemon juice on a paper cut. But when cooked, it melts into something savory and sweet and magical.

The reason why garlic is often used as a sidekick in stock recipes — which typically call for a mere clove or two — is the same reason why it shines so brightly on its own: Its flavor is powerful. So let's harness that.

Once the garlic is done simmering, you have a couple options: You could repurpose those mushy cloves toward something else (say, a heavily buttered baguette). Or you could mash them through a fine-mesh strainer to enrich the broth with more garlicky goodness (yes please and thank you).

Use this one-ingredient vegetable stock anywhere a recipe calls for the more traditional sort. Because it yields a couple quarts, you'll likely have some for now, and more to freeze for later. Which, I've found, is enormously welcome come winter.

Recipe: Garlic Stock

By Emma Laperruque

MORE FROM Emma Laperruque

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