It’s soup season! I gifted myself a new dutch oven just in time for the cold/snowy hit we’re getting here in Vancouver! It was a pain to bring home on the train with me, but I couldn’t wait to use it!
With soup season, having stock or broth on hand is a necessity. There is actually a difference between stock or broth that I believe has to do with seasoning. While stock is not normally seasoned, broth is and is ready to use in soup – where stock is something you’d use to make broth. But most people use the terms interchangeably, and in the end, you have a soupy, watery, yummy liquid so I don’t really think it matters. Call it whatever you want, I won’t tell. Broth isn’t the prettiest thing to photograph – so don’t expect pretty and colourful pictures like normal – today we are going back to basics!
This particular broth is getting used to make risotto later this week, and the leftovers will be frozen to use for soups when needed. The great thing about broth/stock is that you can freeze it and have it on hand when you need it! A strong, flavourful soup, or in this upcoming case, risotto…starts with a strong broth! When your broth is going to be what mainly flavours your dish, you want to make sure it’s good. Sometimes the store bought stuff just doesn’t cut it.
Homemade broth is super easy. If you have some time to let it simmer on the stove – it literally takes no hands on time to make. Not only that – but I honestly think it’s cheaper to make at home! If you save all your vegetable scraps from throughout the week – you can make broth in a pinch! I didn’t have any, but even the cost of just picking up what I needed cost me next to nothing, much cheaper than having to buy the amount of broth that I needed…and more delicious! If you are using your veggie scraps – make sure that they are CLEAN and NOT rotting! You want broth – not dirt/mold soup!
You can flavour broths how you like, too! Which is nice if you’re looking for a distinct flavour. Making Thai food? Throw some lemongrass in there and a Thai chili. Making Indian food? Throw a couple cumin seeds in there. There are a few basic “rules” that you want to follow when making broth, though. In particular, there a few veggies that just don’t work well in stocks. These include cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and brussel sprouts – they will make your broth bitter. Overly starchy veggies like potatoes also shouldn’t go in as they will soak up more flavour then they give. Things like squash, beets. etc. will make your broth turn a funky colour. This blog (click here) has a great comprehensive list of what veggies are good and what ones aren’t! It’s perfect if you’re not sure what to use!
I like to keep it classic and simple – celery, carrots, garlic, mushrooms (they add a delicious, rich, unami flavour), onions, a few herbs, and fennel. The basics! Cut them up – if you leave them whole, they will impart less flavour. The more surface area the more flavour they release! I cut them into large chunks…if you cut them too small they will melt in the broth and make a bit of a gloopy mess! Hearty chunks are great – it gives it surface area to release flavour – but also keeps them whole so they melt away! I keep the herbs whole as well. Again, you can flavour with what herbs you like – but I wouldn’t recommend using dried herbs! Fresh is best in this case!
Browning the veggies in a bit of olive oil really helps to give the broth a nice, deep flavour as opposed to simply boiling the veggies! You can also control the salt content in your own broth – which is great considering the store bough stuff is so salty! Once your both is done simmering – drain it into a container. You can either keep it in the fridge for a few days OR you can portion it out and freeze it for broth on demand! The perfect solution to quick meals on a cold winter day!
Who knew I could blab on so long about BROTH? It’s so simple but such a good trick to have up your sleeve! Making homemade broth is perfect…it’s:
- Super easy and simple to make;
- Minimal hands on time;
- You can use your veggie scraps from other dishes;
- Make ahead and freezer friendly (encouraged!);
- Easy to control salt content;
- You can flavour it how you like, to your own taste;
- Healthier than the store bought kind, and inexpensive;
- Much more delicious than the store bought;
- You can play around with different veggies;
- Perfect for soups, gravy, dressings, risotto’s..anything you would normally use broth for…just much better!
- 3 medium sized carrots, skin on and cut into chunks
- 4 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
- 2 white or yellow onions, skin on and cut into chunks
- 4-5 cloves of garlic (depending on your taste)
- 1 1/2 cups of halved mushrooms (small mushrooms leave whole)
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into quarters
- Handful of Sage, to your taste
- Handful of Thyme, to your taste
- 2 bay leafs
- a pinch of whole peppercorns – too many will make it bitter!
- Salt, to your taste
- Olive oil
- 8 cups of cold water
Start by preheating a large pot or dutch oven to medium heat. Add a bit of oil to coat the pan and toss all your vegetables in (not the herbs, yet). Cook until the vegetables have softened a bit and are starting to get brown.
Add in 8 cups of cold water, thyme, bay leafs, sage and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, turn it down until it’s just simmering. Add in salt to your taste.
Let the broth simmer for an hour and half.
Once the broth is simmered, your kitchen will be fragrant and the broth will be a beautiful, rich, colour!
Let the mixture cool before you drain it, so that you don’t get burned if you have any splash!
Place a large strainer or colander into a large pourable bowl (or just a large regular bowl works well!) Drain the broth into the bowl. And there you have it — broth!
Either use the broth right away in a soup, gravy or whatever you need — or cover it and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you are “stocking” up on it…divvy it up into ice cube trays – or freezer friendly, air tight containers and freeze and use at a later time. You won’t regret it!