Thou broth protest too much (Day 275)…


Now that the days of summer — and its accompanying menu of grapefruit salads and light seafood for dinner — are a distant memory, I’m eating a lot more comfort food, usually in the form of mashed potatoes or soup, which feels especially cozy after riding my bike home from work at night.

Most often, when making something like, say, apple and butternut squash soup, I buy an organic vegetable broth to give it some extra flavour. But after suffering some Tetra Pak guilt, then reading the ingredients list, I began to wonder why I need this extra product.

Really, soup is pretty hard to screw up, unless of course you use rutabaga (a winter root vegetable that came in my CSA delivery recently and messed up an otherwise perfectly tasty meal).

Anyway, the first ingredient in this broth is water. I can get that from my tap for free. The second is carrots, which are usually already in the pot. The third ingredient is celery, but that’s also just water with a bit of roughage and sodium. And the rest of the list is garlic, onions, salt, and spices, all of which I have on-hand and can easily add myself.

So, from now on, I’m not buying flavoured water for soup. That will mean less packaging, less shipping, less to recycle, less weight to carry home and more locally grown food in my soup. So Meghan, are you up for another soup party, sans premade broth?

11 Responses to Thou broth protest too much (Day 275)…

  1. Martha1955 says:

    For a one-person household, one of those 6-cup crock pots will make a nice golden vegetable broth for you from potato skins, carrot tops, etc. (Scrubbed and organic, of course.) Parsley stems and old wobbly carrots that are no longer appealing still work for this. Clean onion and garlic skins. Use it to cook rice (my favorite) or lentils, if you don’t use it all in the soup. I remember you don’t refrigerate. You could probably keep it in a jar for a day or two as long as you brought it to a boil before using. That’s what I do.

  2. Erin says:

    Ugh. You just made me feel REALLY guilty about the french onion soup I was going to make today :-(.

  3. limesarah says:

    Rutabagas need to be chopped and boiled for a few minutes to get them tender…they’re delicious hidden in Indian food, where they mimic cauliflower.

  4. Ditto on the crock pot thing. There are always crock pots at our local thrift stores, so hopefully you could even find one used. If/when you are refrigerating/freezing, a French trick is to save all the extras — peels, ends of vegetables — like parsley stems, carrot peels, potato peels, little dried up shriveled mushrooms — in a bag or container in the freezer, and add those to the stock when you are ready. Strain the cooked stock and it can freeze for a long time.

    For a really good “meat-like” stock with vegetables, if the oven is on, you can roast the vegetables on a tray before making them into stock – perfect for a beefless French onion soup (I think that’s a trick from Mark Bittman).

  5. patti says:

    You can just collect the cooking water from steaming vegetables or boiling potatoes. I keep a plastic container in the freezer and add to it every time I have a little cooking water. It’s yummy and free! I started doing this way back in 10th grade when my biology teacher taught us that most vitamins are water soluble and that the cooking water from veggies is full of vitamins. He used his to make gravy (yuck). I started using ours to cook rice, pasta, soup, and any recipe calling for broth. I never understood why someone would pay money for broth.

  6. Mark B. says:

    A pressure cooker may not be easier than plugging in a crock pot and going off for the day, and it’s bigger investment upfront, but it’s cheaper to operate, will last forever, and probably offers more nutritional benefits, too, Makes soup from virtually anything in an hour or so.

  7. Theresa says:

    I’ve also recently discovered the joys of homemade veggie broth. So easy and yummy! Using it to cook rice has converted my rice-hating husband into a rice eating husband. I pour my boiled stock into clean canning jars and the lids do ‘pop’ so I’m thinking that should keep for a while even if not refrigerated. Do you have a cooler outside you can keep things in this time of year?

  8. I sure am. And the lemon lentil soup I made for you on your breakdown day was broth free. Just veggie goodness.

  9. Mary says:

    Since you are refridgerator free for a while you might want to try saving the brown papery peals from onions for a while. Then when you have “enough” of them, soak in water and then put them in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and salt and/or soy sauce and bring to a roiling boil – then turn down the head and let it simmer – and you end up with a WONDERFUL onion flavored brown broth concentrate. You could use what you want and then while still hot (or heat it again) put it in a glass jar with a resealable lid (like a mason jar) and let it cool in the jar. It should last for a few days without refridgerating (or hey, you’re up north where it is really cold – use the outdoors – like a metal box for storing thing!! you should be good to go!!

    Yum yum yum!!!

  10. Beth Terry says:

    You scared me! When I saw the picture on your blog post, I thought you were going to advocate broth in a box! Making your own is a great choice.

    I found an awesome recipe for roasted vegetable broth that I used this Thanksgiving as the base for my pumpkin soup. It’s here:

    And if I can toot my own horn (just because I hardly ever cook anything elaborate) here’s the pumpkin tureen that I made with my own two little hands. It took me ALL DAY! (Scroll down the page a bit past the stuff about Safeway.)

  11. emily says:

    Good idea, skipping liquid broth.

    Once the challenge is over, if you feel like you need broth in your life again, you could try buying a can of powder (way more result for the packaging). I like it because I can sprinkle it on top of, say, brussels sprouts when I steam them, and it does a lot for the flavor.

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