TASTY TIP: Make your dishes EXTRA Special by adding vegetable broth instead of water.
Vegetable broth has numerous uses. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. You can drink it, as is, for its health benefits. I, often, use the broth in recipes which call for water. It adds a deeper texture of flavors. For example (photo below), making rice or quinoa with broth instead of using water makes the dish tastier and more nutritious, and adds richness to the flavor. It is amazing when making Spanish Rice or a Rice Pilaf.
Vegetable Broth is Easy to Make
Vegetable broth or vegetable stock is easy to make. FYI They are both really the same thing in vegan cooking. The nice thing about vegetable broth is that it is vegan and vegetarian, and can be used in most styles of cooking. Experimenting is fun and broth can be made seasonally by using the freshest in-season vegetables. As long as you don’t pick strong or distinct tasting vegetables (asparagus or broccoli), there is really no way you can go wrong in making vegetable broth. The first time you make vegetable broth, I suggest you make it with the traditional broth vegetables: Onions, carrots, celery. Add a zucchini to give that buttery flavor that is needed (this is a no-oil version) and some garlic cloves and a handful of fresh parsley. You might want to add some mushrooms or potatoes for an earthier thicker flavor.
There are standard ways to make vegetable broths. Truth be told, vegetable broth can be made with a variety of ingredients but it is important to realize that some things can add a powerful flavor or may not blend as well with other flavors. Generally, I do not add herbs to my broth because I want it to be versatile for use in many different types of cuisine. Instead I add my seasonings and herbs to the dish I am making with the broth. If you know ahead of time how you will be using the broth then go ahead and add fresh herbs.
How to Make Vegetable Broth
Classical vegetable broth is made with onion, celery, carrots, garlic and parsley. Often potatoes, mushrooms, leeks are added in. It really is hard to make bad broth using basic vegetables like these. I like mixing it up to add in different nutrients and flavors to my broth.
The recipe below is my oil-free basic versions of vegetable broth. Starting with the basics (onion, potato, celery, carrots, garlic and parsley), I add at least one zucchini because it adds a nice buttery flavor, since I’m not sauteing the vegetables first. You can saute your vegetables first, but I don’t for this easy to make, oil-free version.
Eventually, you want to experiment. I know I do! Try adding some mushrooms for deeper, earthier flavors. You can add leeks or other vegetables, too. I usually throw something in the pot that will add more nutrient value such as a cabbage, beet or turnip. Just don’t add too much of anything that has a strong flavor as it can quickly overtake the other flavors. If you know you will be cooking for one type of cuisine, then it is fine to add some additional fresh herbs. Otherwise, skip the herbs because you certainly don’t want Italian herbs in your Spanish rice or Miso Soup.
STEP 1: Wash the vegetables and don’t worry about cutting them nicely. Big chunks are fine as you will not be using any of the vegetables. They will be cooking down to their fiber and leaving the nutrients and taste in the stock.
STEP 2: I usually slow cook my broth in a large pot on the stove for hours or in a crock pot overnight. The longer it cooks the richer the flavor. Another option is to put in a covered pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce temperature to low and simmer for as long as you can. (Usually 2 -3 hours). However, I will stress that the longer cooking is better as it makes a richer broth.
Basic Oil-free Vegetable Broth
- 4 Carrots
- 4 Celery Stalks
- 1 zucchini
- 1/2 Cup Parsley (or 1 handful)
- 2 Potatoes
- 2 Onion
- 5 cloves Garlic
- 10 cups Water
- Prep the vegetables first. Scrub clean carrots, celery, zucchini and potatoes. Wash parsley and drain. Peel onions and garlic. Cut vegetables into large cubes and quarter potatoes.
- Put water in slow cooker and turn on to low. Add vegetables to crock pot. Cook for 8 hours or longer. Overnight is best.
- Pour the broth through a strainer. Discard the solids.
- FREEZING TIPS: Make sure broth is cooled down before freezing. Make sure you leave room for expansion in container – do not fill all the way to the top. If using glass, I don't put the lids on tight until it is frozen.
PREP TIP: Make ahead and freeze. Freeze the broth in 4, 8 or 16 oz. servings for easy recipe use. Using vegetable broth to replace water in recipes adds nutrition and extra taste! .