Do you wish you could take a basic cooking class? Do you find yourself buying lots of pre-made ingredients, but suspect your food would taste even better from scratch? Periodically, Champagne Tastes will be featuring ‘Cooking 101’ recipes. These cooking staples will take your food to the next level, and will help you make more ingredients from scratch.
One basic recipe I find myself using over and over again is vegetable broth. Yes, yes.. I know. Broth comes in a box. It’s cheap. It’s so so easy to just pop the lid off the box, and pour that broth into your soup (or whatever you’re making). Well guess what.. pre-made broth also has tons of salt. I don’t mind using it periodically, and typically in late spring or summer I just go ahead and use pre-made broth. Once it starts getting cold outside, I start making soup almost daily, and I don’t really want to eat that much salt on a regular basis. (Really… I eat So. Much. Soup.)
Another reason I love homemade vegetable broth is that I don’t always have pre-made broth in my pantry! And isn’t that sad?? You decide you want soup.. you have all the ingredients.. except the broth. Sadness. Well, be sad no more!! This homemade broth is delicious, takes about 30 minutes, and you can easily customize the ingredients.
My favorite thing about homemade broth is that it’s just so tasty! My second favorite thing is that I use vegetable scraps to make it, and that makes me feel good about my life. Like I’ve really got things together. I’m reusing, recycling… and whatever the 3rd thing you’re supposed to do is. I keep a ‘broth scraps’ bag in my freezer. Yes that’s right- I have a weird bag full of onion peels, herb stems, carrot peels, mushroom stalks etc sitting underneath my ice cube tray. And you can have one too! (All the cool kids are doing it). Save the scraps!
Some recipes I’ve seen call for all scraps, but personally, I’ve never gotten my broth to taste fantastic when I use ONLY scraps. Instead, I use my scraps and mix in a few whole veggies. I think the key is to have a variety. You may also find that certain vegetables have stronger flavors than others (personally- I don’t like bell pepper scraps in my broth, but that’s just me!). Also, although I go through more onions than any other vegetable, and would really love to use all my scraps at once in broth, too many onions makes for some very bitter broth. Restrain yourself.
When making broth, either use it immediately, refrigerate it and use it within a few days, or freeze it. It’s also a good idea to freeze it in different size containers- that way you don’t have to defrost an entire container if you only need 1 cup.
Go ahead- make broth. And then make soup.
Need recipes to use your homemade broth? Try these:
Homemade Vegetable Broth
Yields 1 quart
- *Vegetables may be substituted for equal quantity vegetable scraps. I've found a mixture of whole vegetables and scraps makes delicious broth.
- **Vegetables can be subbed for other veggies that you have on hand
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 leek or 1 onion, roughly chopped (not peeled)
- 2 carrots, chopped (not peeled)
- 2 stalks celery, roughly sliced
- 1 TB minced garlic
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 3-4 tsp salt
- 6 whole peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 sprigs thyme (fresh or dried)
- 1 sprig rosemary (fresh or dried)
- 2 splashes white wine (optional)
Heat oil in soup pan on medium heat, and add leeks or onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and about 1 quart water.
Cover, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to medium. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Ladle out all solid ingredients, or place a mesh strainer over another bowl or pot and pour broth through strainer to remove solid ingredients. Throw away the cooked veggies and keep the broth.
Use broth immediately, refrigerate and use within a few days, or freeze.
Recipe adapted from: The French Market Cookbook