Vegetable broth is easy to make, vitamin-rich and flavorful. Veggie broth at my kitchen turns out a little different every time, depending on what kitchen scraps are available. For example there are no tomatoes in the broth this time of year but plenty long-storing aromatics like onion, garlic, carrots and celery.
Make it you own, adding what you like to eat. Start with what you have and take advantage of reduced-price and overstocked grocery store vegetables. I always have onion and garlic root tips and tops, the leaves and base of a celery stalk, carrot stubs, parsley and mushroom stems.
I always add some dried herbs, pepper flakes or peppercorns and a bit of salt. Or, leave out the salt and add a piece of nori. Wait until you using the broth in a recipe to adjust the salt, herbs and spices.
Make Vegetable Stock from Vegetable Scraps
As you prep vegetables, freeze the vegetable scraps. I keep a big zip-lock bag in the freezer and place all vegetable trimmings in the bag as you prepare meals. Peelings and tough stem are loaded with nutrients.
Use the tough stems and ribs of asparagus, kale, chard, and herbs. Root vegetable peels like onions, potatoes, and parsnips go in the bag. Use green onions, carrots, green beans, celery tops and tips.
Include those neglected veggies in the crisper. Adding onion skins and mushroom stems will create a darker, richer colored broth.
Cook vegetables in a large dutch oven until softened, about 5 – 10 minutes, stirring often. Add 8-10 cups of water, frozen vegetable scraps, bay leaves, whole herb springs, parsley, and garlic cloves, even nori or miso if you like. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes to an hour.
Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot; discard solids. Let cooked vegetables slowly drain, but do not mash the vegetables, if you want a clear broth.
Use Fresh Whole Vegetables to Make Broth
If you are starting with fresh vegetables, scrub everything. Chop in consistent sizes, like one inch chunks. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread over a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir vegetables, add whole cloves of unpeeled garlic and whole springs of herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Roast a total of 25 to 30 minutes. Stirring once or twice during cooking. If the vegetables are not roasted and fork tender, stir again and place in the oven for five-minute intervals until vegetables are soft.
Take care not to burn vegetables. The goal is to caramelize the vegetables. Caramelization brings out a nutty flavor and sweet, golden brown color.
Add vegetables to a large soup pot or dutch oven. Pour in 8-10 cups of cold water, bay leaves, whole springs of parsley, thyme and oregano (your choice). Bring to just boiling.
Reduce heat to slowly simmer, partly covered, for 45 minutes. Turn off heat. Allow the broth to cool until you can safely handle the next steps.
Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl. Discard solids. Let cooked vegetables drain, but do not mash them, if you want a clear broth. Pressing the vegetables into the strainer will result in cloudy broth.
For the clearest broth, stain again using a colander lined with cheese cloth or coffee filters.
Using and Storing Vegetable Broth
• Add flavor and nutrients to any dish buy cooking with vegetable broth instead of water. Broth is an excellent soup base. Use it to cook risotto, couscous, or to simmer vegetables.
• Substitute broth for water in casseroles, baked rice, or pasta dishes. It is great for rehydrating vetetables, sun-dried tomatoes or dried mushrooms.
• Get Well. This nutrient dense flavor booster is just right if you have a sore throat during cold and flu season. Add the juice of a half lemon. As you begin to eat foods again, simmer a few noodles or favorite vegetables in the broth.
Keep broth refrigerated for up to 2 days, or freeze it. I freeze veggie broth in 1 cup or 2 cup portions and even freeze plastic quart containers of broth for soup base. Measure broth into individual containers and freeze. Remember, liquid expands when it freezes. After the cup size containers of broth are frozen, pop the broth blocks out of the container and store in a zip-lock freezer bag.
If you are feeling lucky, store in quart size zip-lock freezer bags. Be sure to leave room for expansion when the broth freezes. It boosts my confidence to put the filled quart zip-lock into a larger one gallon bag just until it freezes solid.