Simple Oil-Free Vegetable Broth / Stock

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)

BASE LAYER:  

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.

MIDDLE LAYER: 

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. 

TOP LAYER:

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!

Curried Buttercup Squash Soup

Soup is the Song of the Hearth..and the Home.

LOUIS PULLIG De GOUY – the soup book (1949)

Nothing brings me as much comfort as a simmering pot of soup on the stove. As the days get shorter and darker and colder, my yen for salad wanes and I reach for the big pot again and again. 

On the menu today, roasted buttercup squash soup, fragrant with spices from India with a hint of creamy coconut.

Buttercup seems a bit more dense and sweeter than butternut after roasting, ideal for a curried soup. Its brilliant golden-orange flesh not only adds a gorgeous hue but is a great source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and fiber. 

So let the wind howl and watch the rain turn into sleet, then snow. This soup will keep you warm and toasty inside. 

Curried Buttercup Squash Soup

This delicious creamy soup strikes a perfect balance between sweet and spicy!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine East Asian flavours
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 buttercup squash, roasted
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder Shan curry powder is one type that works well
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4-5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 small dried red chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 can coconut milk, light or regular
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Pre heat oven to 400 F
  • Cut 1 buttercup squash in half and scoop out seeds (which are excellent toasted on their own)
  • Roast squash cut-side down on parchment-lined baking sheet until fork-tender (approximately 30-40 minutes)
  • Let cool, then scoop the baked flesh from the skin and set aside (compost skin)
  • In soup pot on medium heat, saute diced onions, garlic and ginger until softened (if avoiding oil, saute in water or broth)
  • Stir in curry powder and garam masala until fragrant (it's quick, don't let it burn)
  • Add 4cups vegetable broth ( or water with low-sodium vegetable boullion powder)
  • Stir in roasted squash - if too thick, add an additional cup of broth or water
  • Add dried chili peppers if including
  • Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to simmer
  • Simmer for 15 minutes
  • Remove chili peppers if using
  • Stir in coconut milk
  • With immersion blender, blend until velvety smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, puree in small batches in regular or high-speed blender with vented lid.
  • Taste and adjust spices to your liking
  • Serve, garnished with a sprig of cilantro or a few toasted, shelled pumpkin seeds or a light sprinkle of cinnamon
Keyword Autumn, Oil-free, Vegan, Winter

Cauliflower, Potato & Bean Soup

Just in time to take the chill off, a nice comforting bowl of warm soup, chock full of cauliflower, white beans, barley and potatoes. Slivered collard leaves (or alternatively kale, or Swiss Chard) add a little extra “green” nutrition. This tasty soup is chunky and filling, low in calories, and very high in fibre and Vitamins A and C plus iron.  To keep calories down, sauté the veggies in a bit of water rather than oil — you won’t miss it. While the recipe does make a big pot, leftovers taste even better the next day or you can freeze individual portions for later.

Cauliflower, Bean and Potato Soup

A comforting bowl of chunky soup that will warm you and fill you up!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 140 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 8 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium preferred
  • 1/2 cup dried barley
  • 1 19 oz can white kidney beans (Cannellini), no salt added
  • 1/2 cup strained tomatoes (passatta) - optional
  • 2 cups cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp ground pepper (or 10 twists of the grinder)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large potato, diced in large chunks
  • 3 collard (or kale or Swiss Chard) leaves, stems removed and leaves sliced very thinly Tip: Roll the leaves up into a tight cigar and then thinly slice across. If the slivers are too long, chop once again sideways to shorten them.
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, with a little extra left to garnish

Instructions
 

Instructions

  • Heat large soup pot on medium heat until a drop of water sizzles. Pour in a splash of water
  • Saute onions, carrots, parsnip, celery and garlic, splashing in a bit more water if it starts to dry out
  • Once fragrant, add vegetable broth, cabbage, barley, beans, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes and spices
  • Bring to a boil, then stir in collard greens
  • Lower heat to low simmer and cook covered, stirring occasionally until potatoes are fork tender (approximately 45 minutes). If the soup gets too thick, add 1 cup of water to simmering stock
  • Once done, stir half cup parsley into soup
  • Taste and adjust any spices
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with a little extra parsley
Keyword Autumn, High-Fiber, Oil-free, Vegan, Winter

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

From Texas Caviar to Hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas are the star of the show this time of year . It is said that eating these little beauties on New Year’s Day will bring much prosperity for the year ahead and if you add tomatoes, good health too.  Add collard greens (to represent the almighty dollar) and your financial future is set!

As superstitions go, this isn’t a bad one as black-eyed peas and collard greens are both nutrient-dense foods.

One cup of black-eyed peas has: 160 calories, 8.2 g of fibre, 5.2 g of protein and 263 mcg of folate, 53% of your daily required amount. All that fibre acts like a little toothbrush through the colon – most people don’t get enough.

One cup of cooked collard greens has only 49 calories, 5 g of fibre and 4 g of protein. It is extremely high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, plus a host of other nutrients. Collards are from the Brassica family, related to cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. These cruciferous veggies have sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates which may reduce cancer risk.

Get all of that goodness inside of you with this spicy Creole-inspired dish. It’s a perfect food any day in January! 

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Garlicky Collard Greens

A perfect New Year's Day dish, guaranteed to bring you good health and prosperity throughout the year! Black-eyed peas in a spicy tomato broth, served with collard greens lightly sautéed with garlic.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Creole

Ingredients
  

  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas rinsed and soaked overnight (8-10 hours)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes fire-roasted preferred, but regular are fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce optional

For the Collard Greens

  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut into halves
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

Instructions
 

  • Heat a 5L/5QT pot to medium-high. Add a little water to the pot and sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients except the liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1.5 hours or until the peas are soft. At that point add the liquid smoke, starting with 1/4 tsp (as it is pretty potent and can destroy the dish if too much is added). Cook an additional few minutes and serve, hot.

For the Collard Greens

  • Remove and discard stems and centre ribs of collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. 
  • Heat 12" skillet to Medium-High
  • Add 1 tbsp of water (or broth, if using) plus the garlic to the pan, stirring for just a few seconds. Add the chopped collards, cherry tomatoes and remaining water to pan, gently sautéing until greens are tender but not mushy . Sprinkle with coconut aminos or soy sauce to taste. Give a final stir and serve with the black-eyed peas over brown rice.

Notes

 
 
Keyword Oil-free, Vegan