Big Little Recipes

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.

November  2, 2021

A 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. This month, we’re sharing sneak peeks from the Big Little Recipes cookbook, all revving up to its release on November 9 (blasts airhorn, throws confetti in the air)


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).

Use garlic stock anywhere a recipe calls for vegetable or chicken stock. Or turn it into instant soup with your favorite ingredients (like cooked noodles, canned chickpeas, and herbs). Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Sophia Pappas. Food Stylist: Lauren Lapenna.

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.

Snag a copy of the Big Little Recipes cookbook in our Shop, or a slew of other places, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookshop.org, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell's, or Target.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate and Skimlinks affiliate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Preorder now

Put down those long grocery lists. Inspired by the award-winning column, our upcoming Big Little Recipes cookbook is minimalism at its best: few ingredients, tons of flavor.

Preorder now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • laurenlemongrass
    laurenlemongrass
  • Elise Kollmann
    Elise Kollmann
  • Camille
    Camille
  • HalfPint
    HalfPint
  • Michele
    Michele
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in November 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

10 Comments

laurenlemongrass November 8, 2021
This sounds great, but my favorite one ingredient stock recipe is bean stock. Cooking liquid from dried beans is basically magic and can take the place of stock in any recipe. If you cook dried beans frequently enough and freeze the resulting liquid, you basically will never need to buy stock again.

I also like saving veggie scraps in a freezer bag and throwing that in the pressure cooker to make stock, too whenever the bag is full (aka garbage stock.)

 
Elise K. November 6, 2021
What a great idea for basic good broth! This may be old news, but for many years I have used a hard rubber head mallet from the hardware store for breaking things up. In this case you smack the garlic head a few times and the cloves are loose and ready to peel. A little smack on each one and you pull out the garlic. Also, my neighbor who grows garlic swears by the tube from the pampered chef - swears the garlic cloves roll right out, peeled and ready to go. Hand peeling two heads of garlic seems more useful as a form of meditation. I love your videos.
 
Camille November 3, 2021
Ouh, cannot wait to try this. looks wonderful for light broth soups. How about with Risotto?
 
HalfPint November 2, 2021
My mother used a quick garlic broth as the foundation of all her Vietnamese soups:

1. mince 2-3 cloves of garlic (about 2-3 tsp minced)
2. saute garlic in a little bit of oil (any neutral-flavored oil will work), ~1TB. Cook until it starts to brown, but don't burn it. If it burns, start over again.
3. Add water (how much is up to you)

That's it. Proceed with your soup recipe and season however you like.

If you want a hot & sour soup, add 1 golf ball lump of tamarind and let it soften as the broth comes to a boil. Scoop out the tamarind into a small bowl, along with a few TB of the broth. Gently mash to make a tamarind water. Pour the tamarind water back into the garlic broth. Discard the seeds and fibers of the tamarind. Proceed with the soup recipe.

For a basic soup, season with either salt and/or fish sauce. Optional: pinch of black pepper.

This garlic broth was how all my mother's cooking would start.
 
Michele November 2, 2021
This looks awesome! Thank you Emma :)
 
MimiLoves52 November 2, 2021
Emma, thank you for sharing this recipe. I would have never imagined. Can’t wait to try it!
 
SMP November 2, 2021
I would use for risotto - especially vegetarian!
 
Jen B. November 2, 2021
Do you think this would be good with some parm rinds too?
 
AntoniaJames November 2, 2021
This is wonderful. Thank you. I used to make garlic broth, eons ago, using a recipe from the first "Vegetarian Epicure" - but it was a bit more involved than this.

I'm always looking for ways to coax more flavor out of eventually composted but still useful scraps (see https://food52.com/blog/13959-over-30-recipes-to-put-herb-stems-to-good-use).

This would be the perfect way to repurpose the skins from roasted garlic. I'll pop those babies into the freezer until ready to use in this stock, along with the fresh garlic recommended here. I cannot wait to try it, both with and without the roasted garlic. Stay tuned. ;o)
 
Author Comment
Emma L. November 2, 2021
Thank you, AntoniaJames! Adding roasted garlic skins is a fun idea.