You don’t have to buy broth with all that sodium; try making your own. Making your own is so easy, and, so healthy! I promise, you’ll like it. It’ll make your soups richer. Your casseroles, tastier. Your sauces, saucier. And, it’ll make everything healthier and fresher.
I use a lot of broth in my cooking. Wait, let me back up a bit. The first time I made broth was for Thanksgiving many years ago. It was my first time hosting a big Thanksgiving, and I wanted everything to taste great! So, I decided to make my own turkey stock. That’s what Thanksgiving smells like. It smells like homemade cooked tasty goodness, and a big batch of stock simmering away on the stove.
Every time I make broth it smells like Thanksgiving in the house, even though there’s no turkey in the broth. And, this broth is a great base for lots of Thanksgiving items: stuffing, gravy (use it just like you would turkey stock to make gravy, and voila, vegetarian gravy!), soup, sauces, casseroles.
The first step in making great broth is saving parts of the veggies that you normally might not use. I keep all the dark green parts of the leeks in a plastic bag in the freezer. They make the broth darker. Now, if you’re making turkey or chicken stock, you may not need to darken your broth. But, with veggie broth, I find that the darker color makes it look more appealing. Save the root ends of onions in that same bag. Save the skins and tops of those hard winter squashes. Save the cuttings of the carrot tops (even the greens from the carrots will work).
I don’t add potatoes to the broth – they’ll make it a bit mushy and cloudy. And, cruciferous veggies will make the broth bitter. Keep in mind that your broth will take on the color and flavor of the veggies you use. So, if you don’t want pink broth, don’t use red beets (yes, I learned that one from experience!). You can throw in egg shells to add some calcium to your broth (just use shells from boiled eggs so you don’t get egg flower soup). And, you don’t have to peel onions or shallots, just throw them in skins and all.
You can use veggies that might be slightly ugly or slightly past their prime. I had ½ a bag of baby carrots in the fridge that I used in this batch. Don’t use anything that’s gone moldy or rancid, but carrots that are a little old will work just fine.
And, when you’re done, throw the veggie solids in the compost pile.
- 1 container cremini mushrooms*
- 4 large shallots left unpeeled, cut into quarters
- 3 large carrots scrubbed clean, and coarsely chopped
- 1 red pepper quartered
- 2 garlic cloves left unpeeled, cut in half
- 8 fresh parsley sprigs divided use
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs divided use
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-10 whole peppercorns
- 4 leeks dark part only
- Any veggie bits and parts
- filtered water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. In a large roasting pan, toss together first 5 ingredients. Add in 4 parsley springs and 3 thyme sprigs. Drizzle olive oil over the veggies, and stir to coat. Roast in 425° oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Take roasted veggies, and place them in a large stock pot. Add remaining parsley and thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, leeks, and any other veggie bits. Cover with cold clean filtered water. Cover pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer with the lid slightly ajar stirring occasionally, for about 60 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.
- Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the solids. If you want a super fine clear stock, run the strained broth through a wet coffee filter. Add salt. It may not taste as salty as you’re used to, but it will add good flavor to whatever you’re making. And, if you’re eating it straight, adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Store the broth in the fridge, or if you aren't going to use it right away, store it in the freezer. It can be frozen in ice-cube trays, and then toss those broth cubes in a large plastic bag.
*Cook’s notes: cremini mushrooms are the little brown mushrooms. I’ve also seen them called Italian mushrooms or baby portabellas. If you can’t find brown mushrooms, white button mushrooms will work just fine. For that matter, so will large portabellas that have been chopped up.