Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making vegetable broth from scratch is so easy to do, and tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff — it’s totally worth the effort! If you have a little time, some empty containers and some freezer space, you can stock up and never have to buy a can again. I like to freeze it in 1- or 2-cup portions so I can defrost just the amount I need at any time

Of course if you’re really diligent, you can save up vegetable scraps over time (storing them in the freezer) and use them in place of some of the ingredients below. The exact quantities aren’t super critical, so mix and match as you see fit.

Yields 6-7 cups broth

Ingredients

18 cups water
4 ribs celery, cut into large chunks (including any leaves)
3 carrots, cut into large chunks
3 leeks, cut into large chunks (clean carefully to get rid of any grit)
2 parsnips, cut into large chunks
2 small yellow onions, quartered (skins left on)
1 bulb garlic, cut half horizontally (skin left on)
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1-2 tsp salt

In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients except salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.

Turn off the heat. Remove most of the vegetable pieces and place them in a colander over a large bowl. Press with a spoon to help squeeze out excess liquid. Then place a weight on top (such as a bowl full of water) and let sit until the veggies stop dripping. Discard the veggies and put the released liquid back into the main pot of broth.

Add salt to taste, then strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined colander and into a bowl. Chill the broth by placing the bowl in an ice water bath. Transfer to containers (leaving about an inch of head space) and freeze until needed.

Pictured: Pyrex Measuring Cup, Hazel Atlas Egg Beater Cup

Slow Cooker Yellow Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

On these cold stormy days, there’s nothing better than a big pot of soup simmering away in the slow cooker, providing an effortless meal that can feed a crowd. In this recipe, warming curry spices meld deliciously with earthy split peas and sweet potatoes. I prefer white sweet potatoes here because their flavor is a little more subtle than the orange variety. Spinach provides a nice pop of color and is a nice balance to the overall sweetness of the soup.

Try pairing this dish with No-Knead Harvest Bread — a classic combo!

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups yellow split peas
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
3 lbs white sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
salt
2 10-oz bags baby spinach
2 limes, cut into wedges

Place split peas in a large bowl and cover with about double their volume of water. Soak overnight, then drain and rinse.

In a large skillet, saute onions and carrots until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Put in the slow cooker with the split peas, sweet potatoes, spices, vegetable broth and water, and stir.

Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. About 20 minutes before serving, add the coconut milk and stir. Season with salt to taste.

Five minutes before serving, stir in the spinach. Serve with lime wedges.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware French White F-15-B Oval Casserole

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Red lentils are one of my favorite soup ingredients because their mild flavor and fall-apart texture provide the perfect backdrop for vegetables and warming spices. If you live near an Indian grocery, it’s a great place to get the whole-seed spices for this recipe — as well as the fresh curry leaves, which I’ve never seen in a regular supermarket. But you can also purchase curry leaves through Amazon or other online purveyors. It’s worth the effort to find them, because there really isn’t a good substitute for their flavor.

Adapted from Food Network’s Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

4 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes
1 small cauliflower (about 1 pound), chopped into small florets
2 cups split red lentils, rinsed
24 fresh curry leaves
8 cups vegetable broth, plus 2 cups extra for thinning out the soup if needed
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tsp salt
fresh cilantro, chopped fine (for garnish)

In a heavy skillet, combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds. Roast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the coriander darkens slightly and the spices smell toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool and set aside.

In a large pot (5-6 quarts) over medium-high heat, saute the onions in oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Turn off the heat and stir in the turmeric and cayenne.

Grind the cooled spices into a semi-fine powder (we have a spices-only coffee grinder for this purpose). Using a fine sieve, sift the spices into the pot. Discard any larger spice pieces that remain.

Add the carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, red lentils, curry leaves and 8 cups broth. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and salt. (At this point you can puree the soup with an immersion blender if you want a smoother texture, but I prefer to keep the chunks. You can also thin out the soup with additional broth if desired.) Simmer a few minutes more, then serve topped with chopped cilantro.

Pictured: Le Creuset Flame #23 Skillet  

Quick Spicy Miso Ramen

Allow me to convince you that miso paste should be a staple in your refrigerator. It’s great for marinades (this Grilled Miso Shrimp recipe from Food & Wine is fantastic) salad dressing (try this Miso-Sesame Dressing from the Food Network) and best of all, you can make a totally delicious miso broth in seconds — just add water.

This quick miso soup (inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Classic Miso Soup with Greens and Tofu) is a great way to use veggies or leftovers you happen to have in the fridge — it’s a recipe that really begs for improvisation, and it can be scaled up for multiple servings. This time I went with kale as the main vegetable, but any leafy greens can be substituted — spinach, chard, bok choy, etc. Do you have leftover steamed green beans or brussels sprouts or asparagus? Throw them in. Are you stuck with frozen peas and corn? Use that instead. If you don’t have jalapeños, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes can also work. You can’t really go wrong.

Note: You can use Top Ramen-style instant noodles here, but if you are shopping for miso at your nearest Japanese market, pick up some more interesting noodles while you’re there.

Serves 1

 

Ingredients

1 egg
3 1/2 cups water
3 oz ramen noodles
3/4 cup lacinato kale, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
5 slices fresh jalapeño
2-3 tbsp white miso paste
1 tbsp sriracha

Take an egg from the refrigerator and leave it on the counter for half an hour to lose its chill. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Gently lower the egg into the water with a slotted spoon. Cook for 7 minutes with the water just barely bubbling. Remove the egg from the pot and plunge it into a bowl of ice water for about 30 seconds, then set aside.

In a separate pot, bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the ramen noodles and cook according to package directions (usually about 3 minutes). Use tongs to remove the noodles and set aside.

Remove about 1/4 cup of the water and add it to the miso paste in a separate bowl. Whisk until smooth (this helps prevent clumping).

Add the kale to the pot and simmer until slightly tender, about 6 minutes. Add the green onions and jalapeño slices and simmer 1 minute more. Stir in the noodles, miso mixture and sriracha. Top with the egg, peeled and sliced in half (the yolk should be soft but not too runny — the consistency of jam). Simmer briefly to make sure everything is hot, then serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Harvest P-1 3/4-B Saucepan, Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl, Pyrex Measuring Cup

Spring Onion, Barley and White Bean Soup

What do you do when you have spring onions from the farmers market and a big bag of arugula from your neighbor’s garden? Well, I start thinking about soup, the swirl of greens in a hearty mix of beans and barley, and bacon. It’s hard to go wrong with ingredients like that! The soup is a meal in itself but would also be good served with garlic bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Recipe very loosely adapted from The New York TimesBarley and Spring Onion Soup With Fava Beans.

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 oz bacon, diced
1/2 lb spring onions, sliced (bulbs and stems)
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup barley
5 oz arugula (or baby spinach)
salt
pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the bacon until the fat renders and the edges start to brown. Add the spring onions and cook until they are slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, beans and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until barley is tender, about 1 hour.

Stir in the arugula and cook until wilted and the soup starts to simmer again, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-5-B Saucepot, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 402 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl

Hearty Kielbasa and Brussels Sprout Soup

Our family loves brussels sprouts. We eat them at almost every holiday meal, and at plenty of regular meals too. I’m thinking my daughter is the only kid in her class who is happy to see brussels sprouts in her lunch bag at school.

This year we happened to have them for dinner on both Christmas Eve (sauteed) and Christmas Day (roasted). And then a few days later, we accidentally ordered 2 lbs more in our Imperfect Produce delivery. So naturally I was looking for a different way to prepare a whole lot of brussels sprouts, and settled on soup.

Kielbasa is commonly paired with cabbage in soups, so why not use brussels sprouts instead? They bring a lot of flavor and texture to the dish, complemented by the subtle smokiness of the kielbasa and smoked paprika. Add some garlic bread and you’ve got the perfect antidote to chilly winter evenings.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb kielbasa, sliced into thin rounds
4 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 small onions (or 1 large), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp smoked paprika
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 lbs brussels sprouts, sliced thin
salt
pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute the kielbasa in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove the kielbasa and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pot.

Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add bay leaves, smoked paprika, chicken broth and potatoes.

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the reserved kielbasa. Simmer for another minute or so until the kielbasa is hot, then serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware Country Festival P-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Fruit Basket P-43-B Petite Pan 

Creamy Broccoli, Kale and Potato Soup

This recipe started as a desire to recreate the homemade cream of broccoli soup I had growing up. These days, all you ever see is broccoli cheddar soup — but the soup I know and love is pure broccoli and cream, no cheese required.

So when I picked up a copy of The Frugal Gourmet at Hope Thrift recently, I was delighted to find that Jeff Smith’s recipe for cream of broccoli soup is the one I remember (in fact, I’m pretty sure my parents had the same book in their kitchen). Of course, I can’t help but tweak things, and I found myself wondering how green the soup would turn out with the addition of some kale, among other changes. The answer is … very green!

I recommend serving with garlic bread or a nice crusty baguette.

Serves 6

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Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb kale (about 1 bunch), stemmed and finely chopped
1 1/2 lb broccoli, finely chopped (including peeled stems and any leaves)
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream
salt
pepper
optional garnishes: fresh parsley, croutons

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onions and celery in the butter until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Stir in the kale a handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the broccoli, potato, chicken broth, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until the kale, potatoes and broccoli are very tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until your desired level of smoothness.

Return to low heat and stir in the cream, cooking until the soup is hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or croutons.

Pictured: Corning Ware Fresh Cut P-43-B Petite Pan (x2), Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-41-B Petite Pan, Pyrex 508 Measuring Cup