The No-Food-Waste, Easiest Vegetable Broth
Do you rely on bullion, broth-mix cubes or boxes of vegetable broth? When you’re in a time bind, these can certainly save time and hassle. But homemade vegetable broth is easier than you’d expect—and a whole lot more flavorful. Plus, when you make vegetable broth from scratch, you can customize the base flavors to enhance different cuisines, from herb-infused French to lemongrass-laced Southeast Asian.
Step one (a few weeks)
Collect and freeze clean vegetable scraps such as mushroom stems, onion tops or skins, leek greens, root vegetable cuttings, etc. Avoid brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts). Be sure that scraps are clean so that you’re not adding dirt to your soup down the line!
Onions, celery and carrots, which the French call mirepoix, form the base flavors of broth. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté two chopped onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil until wilted. Add 2 tablespoons chopped garlic for flavor (optional). Stir in three cups of chopped carrot and celery and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Add 8 cups of filtered water or spring water to the pot. Roughly chop and add the frozen vegetable scraps. Add bay leaf, parsley, marjoram, thyme and/or rosemary for a classic savory flavor; or instead of bay leaf and other herbs, add chopped lemongrass or ginger root for an Asian-inspired broth. Cover and simmer gently on low or medium-low for about one hour. Stirring isn’t necessary.
Remove the broth from heat and let cool for 30 minutes or more. Pour through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove the solids. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Use the broth as a base for soups, stews, or rice or whole-grain pilaf. Freeze broth if not ready to use right away. Will keep for 2–3 months frozen.