Thursday, May 19, 2016

Homemade Vegetable Broth Base

If you've read this blog much, you'll know I prefer to make my own stocks. Vegetable stock has always seemed like a waste of vegetables, though. Meat broths makes sense. Just a few vegetables and some left-over bones, that I'd otherwise throw away, and a bunch of water. Very frugal. Using up a huge amount of yummy veggies only to toss them in the trash after I've boiled them to death just to make vegetable both? I don't think so.

With that in mind, I've generally used the “Better-than-Bullion” vegetarian broth base in the past. (No, that is not an endorsement. It's just what I like and can easily get a hold of.) Not anymore. With the help of America's Test Kitchen, and some recipe tweaking to make it fit my budget and available vegetables, and still taste great, now I have an amazing recipe for my own vegetable broth base. Yes, it still uses a bunch of vegetable, but, I get a lot more yield from my grocery money than making traditional vegetable stock, or buying either kind at the store. This recipe will make about 1 3/4-cups of base, which translates to about 1 3/4-gallons of broth. Very cost effective, and much more flavorful.

This recipe calls for kosher salt. Don't be tempted to cheap out and use table salt. It will ruin the broth base.

Equipment needed
Chef's knife
Food processor
Freezer-safe, airtight container
Wax paper (or parchment paper)

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped and thoroughly rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2-cup fresh parsley, leaves and thin stems
3 Tbl dried minced onion
2 Tbl kosher salt
1 1/2-Tbl tomato paste
3 Tbl soy sauce

Process the leeks, carrots, celery, parsley, minced onion, and kosher salt in a food processor until the whole turns into a fine past. You'll need to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl periodically, and will take about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the tomato past and process for 1 minute more, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl about every 20 seconds. Add the soy sauce and process for one more minute.
Transfer the mixture into an airtight container and tap it firmly on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Press a small piece of wax paper flush against the surface of the mixture (this helps prevent freezer burn and ice crystal formation) and cover tightly. Can be frozen for up to 6 months.

To make one cup of broth, stir one Tbl of either fresh or frozen broth base mixture into one cup of boiling water. There will be veggie particles floating around, which I think add more flavor, but if you want a clear broth, steep the broth for 5 minutes, like tea, and then strain.

What I do: I re-purpose a used, and cleaned, 16 ounce dairy container, like you find for cottage cheese or sour cream, along with it's lid. The broth base will fill it almost to the top. Then I cover the base, as described, with a square of wax paper so it touches the broth base, and trap the excess wax paper between the lid and the rim of the container. When I need some vegetable broth, I use a large tablespoon to scrape the frozen base off the top. I'll add it, just as if it were a spice mix, along with the needed about of water, when I make soups, or whatever I need a bit of vegetable broth for.

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