I love to make all kinds of soup but I dislike buying broth for several reasons:
- If you read the label of virtually any commercial broth on the shelf at the grocery store, you’ll probably find loads of salt and, depending on the brand, other ingredients you don’t want or can't pronounce or both.
- Food and beverage cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical. According to the Environmental Working Group, BPA “is a synthetic estrogen that scientists have linked to breast cancer, reproductive damage, developmental problems, heart disease and other illnesses.”
- Although Tetra Paks may not contain BPA, they are lined with plastic. I don’t want my food coming into contact with plastic.
- Single-use packaging is wasteful.
- Store-bought broth tastes bad.
So, I make my own broths.
My vegetable broth recipe cuts down on waste on two fronts—the packaging and the ingredients. Throughout the week, as I prep my vegetables, I throw very little into my compost bucket. Instead, I save all of these little bits for making broth. Because I chop more onions, carrots and celery than anything else, my scraps contain a lot of these mirepoix elements. They make tasty broth.
I also include the tops of celery—but not the green leafy carrot tops as they may lend a bitter flavor to my broth. I do add members of the brassica family in small amounts, such as cauliflower cores, broccoli that has seen better days or a bit of cabbage. However, too many of these can make your broth taste a bit bitter. Garlic cloves that have begun to dry out, the ends of green beans, tomato cores, corn cobs, pumpkin pulp, squash innards and leek tops all make excellent additions also, as do excess herbs.
I collect these bits in glass jars and containers and freeze them. As I collect more scraps, they go into the jars. Once I have amassed at least a few jars’ worth, I make broth using the recipe below. (Go here for more information on freezing food in glass jars.)
This large amount of frozen scraps will make several jars of vegetable broth
I use my homemade broth to make soup, stew, dal, pot pies, risotto and so on. It tastes delicious and costs essentially nothing to make.
- Vegetable scraps
1. Throw the scraps into a large pot and add water. I don’t completely cover the scraps with water because after you cook them for a few minutes, they shrink down and become immersed in liquid.
A small amount of scraps
2. Simmer the scraps for about 20 minutes to half an hour. I prefer to make this unsalted and add the salt later to whatever I decide to cook with my broth. Because the liquid cooks down, if you add salt now, the broth may become too salty and it becomes more concentrated.
A large pot of vegetable scraps simmering
3. Strain the scraps. I set a metal colander inside a large metal bowl and dump everything into the colander. Lift out the colander and reserve the scraps for the compost pile.
4. Store the broth in jars in the refrigerator for about a week. This also freezes well. Either pour into a wide-mouth jar to freeze—leaving at least an inch of headspace to allow for expansion—or freeze in ice cube trays and transfer the ice cubes to jars for easy retrieval.
Finished broth, ready to use