Vegetable Broth

I’m playing catch up with the French Fridays with Dorie crowd , and for some reason I decided to group my efforts by topic.  During the last few weeks I’ve made the three soups I missed writing about: the creamy cauliflower soup sans creamcheating on winter pea soup, and the orange scented lentil soup.  The backbone for all three soups was a homemade vegetable broth.  I usually just use the bouillon cubes whenever a recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I wanted to make my own stock for these soups.  Vegetable broth gets the ugly duckling treatment in most cookbooks and kitchen reference books I have around.  It’s usually ignored or mentioned in a little blurb away from its chicken, beef, and veal counteparts.

What I enjoyed the most of making my own broth is adjusting the ingredients to fit the flavor of the soup or stew.  If you will be using the vegetable broth to make comida criolla, tie with some string cilantro stems and recao, and drop a couple of annato seeds into the pot.   For Asian dishes add a piece of ginger and lemongrass stalks and swap the cubanelle pepper for a hotter jalapeño.  Whatever you choose, don’t skip the mushrooms.  They add depth and complexity to the otherwise traditional mirepoix based stock.  Save the mushy vegetables and use them to thicken soups, as I did with the lentil soup.

Vegetable Broth

  • 1 large or 2 small onions, quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into four large pieces
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, quartered
  • 2 ribs of celery, cut into five large pieces
  • 8 button mushrooms, wiped clean
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 spice clove
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 coriander seeds
  • 2 quarts of water

Add all the ingredients to a heavy bottomed pot.  Simmer over medium low heat for two hours, or until it reaches the desired golden/amber color.

On to the soups… as the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad.  The cheating on winter pea soup was just okay.  My version ended up very thin – it could have used a lot more peas.  I substituted the suggested Romaine lettuce for kale and added a garnish of truffled whipped cream that melted the minute it touched the soup.

The creamy cauliflower sans cream soup fared a little better, texture wise.  I cheated and  used frozen cauliflower because the fresh (?) ones in the supermarket did not look too appealing.  Since the celery I was using was a local organic version, the ribs were tiny and I had to  use more of the leaves.  The finished product does not look as refined as the traditional version with the little dark flecks, but it was pretty tasty.  I drizzled extra virgin olive oil on top.  This cauliflower soup would be a great base to play with decadent seafood garnishes.

Our favorite, hands down, was the orange-scented lentil soup.

I did not grow up eating lentils, but this soup was so tasty it would have made a convert out of any of the picky eaters at my household.  Instead of the du Puy lentils favored by Dorie, I used green organic lentils.  I opted out of pureeing the soup with the immersion blender, and enhanced the texture with some pureed onions and carrots.  It was one of my favorite weekend lunches in recent memory.  Since I did not puree the soup (nor the orange peels), the orange essence was there, but it did not overpower the flavor of the soup.

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

11 Responses to “Vegetable Broth”

  1. April 4, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    All three soups look lovely – and perfect for the cold, windy days that seem to usher out the last vestiges of winter.

    And yes – vegetable stock does deserve more love 🙂

  2. April 5, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    I kinda like the theme you’ve got – it’s nice to see the variety you can get from a simple batch of vegetable stock. All of your soups look pretty tasty, and I agree that the lentil soup is definitely the best of the three. I’d never had a lentil soup either, but this definitely converted me. Nice work!

  3. April 5, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Fun catch up post! Every time I make my own vegetable stock I wonder why I don’t do it more. I normally have plenty of vegetables hanging out in the fridge, and it’s really no work, but I find myself using the bouillon way too often. I liked all of these soups, but didn’t love any of them. 2 out of 3 definitely isn’t bad!

  4. April 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Three wonderfully delicious soups! A great catch up, Adriana! All three look lovely…nothing like a good bowl of soup! Have a great weekend!

  5. April 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Nice catchup, Adriana. My approach to vegetable stock is to save the trimmings (fennel stalks, that last bit of onion that I can’t chop safely, herb stems, etc.) in the freezer. Once I have a bag or two full, I make stock, also adding some mushrooms as you do. It makes me feel very resourceful!

  6. April 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    I liked them all, but the lentil was my favorite, too!

  7. April 6, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    I like your chunky version of the lentil soup,it’s especially pretty. These were all winners for me, but my partner was not a fan of the pea soup at all. In fact, it’s become a point of comparison for him for all soups: “This is much better than that pea soup.”

    I agree with you that vegetable stock deserves a little more respect. It can bring depth of flavour to a dish, just as its meat counterparts can.

  8. April 7, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    We enjoyed the cauliflower soup much more than the pea soup. I haven’t made the lentil soup yet. My husband won’t eat lentils but I do want to make it. One of these days I’ll have to have a catch up weekend where I cook some of the dishes I’ve missed. Your pot with the vegetables for broth is beautiful!

  9. April 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Great catch-up, Adriana! I have only made one out of these three soups myself. All of them look wonderful and I am looking forward to catching up with the cauliflower and lentil soups.

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