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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Homemade Vegetable Broth

On Monday when I posted my recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Soup for The Secret Recipe Club, one of the ingredients listed was vegetable broth. As most of my readers know, I make all of my food from scratch if at all possible, and vegetable broth happens to be one of them. It's blissfully easy to make, doesn't really require an exact recipe, uses up those veggies in your fridge that have "almost" seen their better days, tastes great, and is soooo much better than that loaded full of preservatives stuff in a can you buy at the store. And don't even get me started on those salty, fake bullion cubes. Plus, it's frugal and super easy to make, so why wouldn't you want to make your own?



People assume that vegetable broth isn't as flavorful or complex as chicken or beef broth. As you can tell from the picture above, the vegetable broth I make is rich looking and a beautiful golden color.

As I said above, making your own vegetable broth doesn't really require an exact recipe, as you can use any veggies you'd like. But for the base of the broth, you do want the three main stars: onions, (leeks, shallots, or green onions work too) carrots, and celery.

Fun Trivia Fact: The combination of onions, carrots, and celery are called a mirepoix, a French name pronounced meer-pwah, and is used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, sauces, soups and other foods.

It's so easy to make too! Just caramelize some vegetables in a pot, add water and simmer for one hour. Easy right? My favorite part of making vegetable broth, is that unlike meat-based broths, there’s no skimming off fat, which means a cleaner broth in my book.


Remember when I said how frugal this easy broth can be? It is when you use vegetable scraps! Of course you can use fresh produce if you'd like, but it really isn't necessary. With a little advanced planning you can make this broth tasty AND frugally. I'm as cheap as they come, and it kills me to throw anything away, especially food. So whenever I'm cooking with onion, carrots and celery, I save the scraps in a gallon size freezer bag. I keep it in the freezer and when the bag is full, I make broth. Don't limit yourself though, you can use almost any vegetable you'd like in this broth. I throw any little bits of leftover cooked vegetables that we don't eat into the bag as well. Just make sure everything you save is clean before you add it to the bag–you don’t want to make dirt soup! Also, while I said you can use vegetables that are a little wilted, DON'T use anything that is starting to show rot or mold.


Other Great Choices for Vegetable Broth: Tomatoes, fennel, lettuce, sweet potatoes, parsnips, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, winter squash skins, and herbs like dill, parsley, cilantro, oregano, bay leaves and basil.

Vegetables to Avoid Because of Their Overpowering Flavor: Cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, asparagus, and artichokes.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between vegetable broth and stock? Broth is seasoned, and stock is not. This recipe can be used to make either one, just skip adding the garlic, peppercorns and herbs to make the stock version.

So what do you do with the vegetables once you strain them from the broth? Don't throw them away, add them to your compost pile! Your garden will thank you.


Homemade Vegetable Broth

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, unpeeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
6 peppercorns
1 gallon filtered water
a couple sprigs of thyme or rosemary (optional)

Directions

Add olive oil to a large stock pot and heat over medium heat.
Add all of the ingredients listed above, except the herbs, and let them saute in the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the water, turn the heat up to high and cover with a lid.
Once the water begins to boil, turn it down to a fast simmer and allow it to cook for one hour.
Remove from heat and add the herbs, then allow to set for 20 to 30 minutes.
Pour the broth and veggies into a colander that is set over a large bowl to drain. Strain the broth a second time through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
I prefer to not add salt to my broth, and instead season the dish I add it to as a whole. If you'd like to use it though, just salt to taste after you have strained the vegetables from it. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon and go from there.
The finished broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for two to three months.

Notes:

*Caramelizing the vegetables before adding water will give your stock a big boost of flavor.

*Onion skins give the stock a nice, brown color.

*Do not stir the broth. This will cause the vegetables to break down and make your broth cloudy.


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