Nearly two years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I wrote about my first-ever risotto making experience, a risotto alla Milanese. Since then–during the last year in particular–I’ve been getting my risotto on like crazy through vigorous experimentation, however I couldn’t make risotto without a key ingredient: vegetable broth. No, I don’t buy the little powdery cube things to mix with hot water, I do it the old-fashioned way: homemade.
I know I’m not the first person ever to make a vegetable broth from scratch, but I really couldn’t believe how easy it was and it’s since become something that I have taken on regularly. I make a big batch and then cook my way through the broth, one frozen tupperware container at a time. It’s also worth noting that vegetable broth is nifty to have on hand for a juice cleanse as it tends to be one of the permitted “cheating” foods. I’m just sayin’….
Anyhoo, when I first decided to give vegetable broth a go, I found various recipes via Google, but at the end of the day, they’re all more or less the same, always calling for onions, carrots and celery, the core of an Italian soffritto or French mirepoix.
Funny, but the first time I attempted risotto alla milanese with my homemade vegetable broth, the risotto didn’t take on its typical yellow shade, much to my dismay. I thought I might have had faux saffron which would have really ticked me off because as we all know, saffron isn’t cheap. So, I threw a few strands in cold water and sure enough the water had yellowed and I was relieved that my saffron was indeed the real McCoy. When the coloration failed to occur a second time, I realized the problem: my broth was too dark. I didn’t have a massive nine-liter pot at the time (I do now, it actually arrived today) so the broth made in my non-massive pot was really concentrated. I decided to water the broth down before heating it the next time and voila! Problem solved.
While there’s nothing completely “original” about my “recipe”, I decided to share it below nevertheless, where I also noted some optional ingredients that– depending on season and/or availability–might also tickle your fancy to throw in.
So, here’s how I do homemade vegetable broth:
3 celery stalks
a bunch of parsley
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
6 – 8 black peppercorns (whole)
Tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, sage, garlic, oregano, parmesan rind, basil and mushrooms are all fair game to add…have a blast!
Place everything in a large pot (no need to cut up into small pieces or even peel the onions), then fill up the pot with water and bring to a boil. Once reached, let simmer for one hour; I leave the pot uncovered.
When done, remove the veggies (a slotted spoon helps for this), then strain. Now, I don’t have a cheesecloth or coffee filter which several recipes recommend for the straining. (They don’t sell the latter here and the former, I think I’ll just buy when I’m home.) All the little veggie bits and pieces get caught in the colander, which I then remove and there’s the broth. If necessary, I repeat the straining step a couple of times.
I don’t put salt in the broth, but rather, I add it as needed when I’m cooking. (It’s also worth nothing that this is especially beneficial for anyone planning to sip some vegetable broth during a juice cleanse as the broth should be sodium free.)