I’m sharing this recipe because it’s so difficult to find a good vegetarian broth recipe. Many believe the myth that good soups have to be built on a foundation of meat or meat broth. It’s possible to build a fantastic soup on vegetarian aromatics, but you might need some guidance to do it well. I’ve tried several vegetarian broth recipes over the years, but they were usually too bland or too garlicky. This trustworthy, balanced, and rich broth comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. Of course you can used boxed broth from the grocery, but homemade broths take soups (and risottos) to the next level.
These vegetables in the photo create the broth, displayed in their cut form. The onions cook quartered with skins on, the garlic cloves are smashed but have their skins intact, and the celery, carrots, and mushrooms are sliced.
You may want to add an additional herb or vegetable, depending on what you plan to do with the broth, or use leftover scraps and stems of vegetables. For instance, this week I added the dark green sections of several leeks to prepare the broth to make leek and potato soup. Warning: I added a few brussels sprout leaves once, and the broth was good that day, but tasted too cabbage-y the next day as leftovers.
BASIC VEGETABLE BROTH
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, quartered (include the skin)
1 large carrot, sliced
4 celery ribs, sliced
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 whole garlic bulb, unpeeled, broken up, and smashed with the back of a knife
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
9 cups water
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add all of the ingredients except for the water. Saute, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are meltingly tender, about 1 hour. If you have extra time, you can turn off the heat and let the broth sit for another hour or two to enrich the flavor further.
Strain the vegetables, pressing down on them to extract all their liquids. Discard (and compost) the cooked vegetables.