It’s officially Soup Season…
The difference between a good soup and a great soup can usually be traced back to its foundation. Quality broth* or stock* is the fundamental building block of a great soup.
And, like many things, it’s better when it’s homemade.
Homemade Vegetable Broth is both quick and easy to make, because unlike meat stock, long simmering times are unnecessary. And there is nothing exotic about the vegetables and herbs required. Just gather up what is on-hand. Balance of texture and flavour is important in a broth so using strong-tasting vegetables like garlic, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage or broccoli isn’t advised. Vegetables like tomatoes or beets can over-power the colour of the final product, so if you are wanting to make a basic broth that will be useful with many soups, these vegetables are also not recommended. However, if you know, for example, that you are going to be using the broth for a soup that features tomatoes, using tomatoes in the initial broth is a good idea. Starchy vegetables like potatoes or turnips will break down and change the texture of the broth so they are not good vegetables to use. So, what vegetables will work? The best flavour comes from onions (including leeks, spring onions, and shallots), mushrooms, carrots, parsnips, peppers, and celery. And then add some herbs – parsley, thyme, marjoram, and bay leaves. In order to have enough vegetables ready to make broth, a suggestion is to keep a zip-loc bag in the freezer into which you periodically place vegetable peels (squash peels, onion skins, carrots, parsnips) and cut-off tops and ends (carrots, celery, mushrooms, peppers, leek greens), and wilted vegetables and herbs. When it is broth-making day, there will be a ready-made base on which to build. Vegetables can also be roasted prior to making broth, adding an additional depth of flavour.
*These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are technically different: Broth is made from simmering vegetables and/or pieces of meat; Stock is made from simmering bones.
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Yield: approximately 1 ½ litres
2-3 onions or leeks (including the greens)
2-3 celery stalks and leaves
3-4 thyme sprigs
5-6 Italian parsley sprigs
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
- Wash visible dirt from the vegetables (especially the leeks). There is no need to peel them – even leave on the onion skins and carrot tops. Give them all a rough chop.
- Place chopped vegetables in a large soup/stock pot and cover with water. Set the heat at medium-high just to get things started. As soon as some bubbling and steam start forming, turn the heat down to low. The broth should remain at a constant low simmer throughout the cooking time – no rapid boiling.
- Simmer for at least one hour – up to 90 minutes; stir occasionally throughout simmering time.
- Remove pot from heat. Remove the vegetables with tongs or a slotted spoon. Pour the broth through a colander (set over a large bowl) that is lined with cheesecloth.
- Cool completely. Divide the broth into containers – refrigerate if using within a week; freeze for later use.