Photo by Bluebird Provisions on Unsplash
Vegetable broth is a staple in so many recipes. I have tried using the Tetrapaks or canned versions and to me, they are completely lacking in flavour. The bouillion-cube version is so high in sodium it is almost unpalatable, especially for those who are watching sugar and sodium intake.
It is really so simple to make a healthy homemade broth. It is such a good way to use up veggies that are soon to “expire” in your fridge, plus you can assuage your guilt about food waste as well!
I don’t have a tried-and-true recipe because each broth I make is totally different depending on what is in season, what is in my fridge and what is in my garden. Here are some basics:
My 3-layer system for making the best broth (This IS practically fool proof)
Aromatics (one or more of the following): Onions, Shallots, Leeks, Garlic, Ginger PLUS carrots, celery. Dice them up. Add enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
Whole spices: pepper, allspice, bay leaf (For those who have no problem with sodium, you may add some good quality salt here as well. Not too much. Just enough to brighten flavour)
Heat a stock pot or big soup pot to Medium-High. To keep it oil-free, put a few tablespoons of water and add your aromatics. Stir-fry until softened and fragrant. Keep adding 1 tbsp of water whenever things get too dry.
Add other vegetables, roughly chopped, especially: Greens (kale, spinach or collards), Fennel, Mushrooms (fresh or dried), Parsnips, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Broccoli or Cauliflower, Zucchini, Squash, Green Beans, Cabbage (Red or Green), Brussels Sprouts, or any others that you love. (I would not include beets because of the red colour, but you can definitely add this broth to borscht with beets in a separate recipe.) Any combination of veggies works. You may also add dried herbs at this point: dried oregano, basil, marjoram or dill if you like.
To Prep: Roughly chop. You don’t have to be precise as you will be straining the stock, so no need for the perfect dice.
At this point you should also add water – enough to cover all of your veggies, plus an inch or two. I sometimes add 1/2 to 1 cup of Mott’s Low Sodium Garden Cocktail which adds a little something to the flavour.
Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to simmer, for at least one hour.
Once your veggies are softened, add additional fresh herbs and spices. Fresh oregano, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, sage, dill – whichever ones you love. Also, freshly ground pepper. If you are avoiding salt, herbs are the way to go to infuse big flavour. Herbs should be added at the last possible moment.
Turn off heat. Let the broth sit for at least one hour (or longer, or in the fridge until the next day). Then pour through colander/seive over another pot. Compost the veggies. The stock is ready to go! You may store it in 1L jars in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or freeze in freezer-safe ziploc bags for several months. The broth usually is a golden brown colour and has a deep, complex taste that compliments any savoury dish. I use this broth in so many recipes, often replacing water. It adds a ton of flavour!