Sure, you can buy it by the carton. It’s less of a hassle than running around the produce department, gathering carrots, parsnips, celery, etc., only to return home and realize you’ve forgotten the onions or another key ingredient. We’ve all been there, with some recipe or another. However, store-bought vegetable broth contains too much salt in my opinion–while the low-sodium kind lacks flavor. with a bit of planning ahead and mere minutes of prep time, it’s easy to make your own. I guarantee you’ll notice an improvement in the flavor and body of soups and stews. Some more elaborate recipes might have ingredients you don’t recognize (which won’t be the case at the end of this tutorial. More on that later). We’ll start with a basic, unintimidating recipe that utilizes everyday ingredients that you can use it as a prototype for more complex broths and stocks in the future. When I’m short on time, this is my go-to recipe:
Basic Vegetable Broth
Makes approximately 2 quarts
Tip: Don’t peel the carrots/parsnips, or discard the scraps. Things like the tops of carrots or celery, stems, etc. Obviously, discard any spoiled or rotten parts.
1 gallon water
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 cups tomato, quartered
1 medium bell pepper, cut
2 cups parsnip, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 whole peppercorn
1 tsp red pepper flake (like the kind they give you at pizza restaurants)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Add all ingredients to a large stock pot. Bring to a full boil and reduce to simmer. Continue cooking (uncovered) until the liquid is reduced by half.
Pour broth through a filter/sieve/colander, with a bowl or pot underneath it that is larger than the circumference of the filter (to avoid wasting any broth).
Asian-Style Vegetable Broth
Using the basic vegetable broth recipe as a base, all you need are a few more ingredients to emulate the flavors of a Chinese-style noodle or vegetable soup, or traditional Vietnamese pho. You can experiment with combinations of different ingredients, so the following are merely suggestions or guidelines. I recommend using ginger in all combinations however, if you can. As with any broth recipe–you don’t need to peel the root since you’ll remove it before serving/adding the noodles and toppings.
1 4 -inch piece ginger root, unpeeled, sliced
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups vegetable stock (see above recipe)
2 cups water
Simmer 20 minutes on medium heat
Paleo Vegan Pho
6 cups Asian-style vegetable broth (see above recipe)
1 x 8oz package transparent shirataki noodles (sold at Asian grocery stores, some conventional grocery chains, and online. To replicate the appearance of the rice noodles in traditional pho, I recommend the transparent “fettuccine” style shirataki like this one by House Foods or this one by Miracle Noodle).
4 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced
3 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced. Remove the seeds for less heat.
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
4 Tbsp vegetarian “fish sauce”, found in Asian markets, natural food stores, some conventional grocery stores, and online. *However, many of these brands contain preservatives and food coloring/caramel color, and even the natural brands contain sugar. Vegetarian “fish sauce” is very easy to make, using all natural ingredients without added sugar:
Combine 1/4 Tbsp pure powdered stevia extract OR 12-18 drops Stevia Liquid Concentrate (for more info, see the Stevia Conversion Chart) with 1 cup warm water + 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice (if you use fresh, I’m totally impressed) and 1 cup 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari or 1 Tbsp regular tamari. You can also use conventional soy sauce like Kikoman brand if you’re not worried about the additives. When I’m traveling or living abroad, that tends to be all that’s available, anyway :)
fresh cilantro, shredded
Fresh Thai basil leaves
chili garlic sauce
In a large pot over medium heat, add the ginger, star anise and cinnamon sticks to 4 cups vegetable broth (diluted with 2 cups water) and simmer about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare shirataki noodles according to package instructions.
Reduce heat to low and remove the ginger, star anise, and cinnamon. Stir in 4 Tbsp vegetarian fish sauce and let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Drain shirataki noodles and divide among 4 bowls. Top with broth, scallions, cilantro, basil leaves, jalapeno, and bean sprouts. Serve with chili garlic sauce and lime wedges.