With all my talk of bone broth, I thought I should add that I do still make vegetable broth. I don’t, however, use meat and vegetable broth completely interchangeably. Let me explain.
If I’m making a meatless dish, I use a bone broth as the base, since I’m seeking to boost the nutrition. Also, Husband gets the impression he’s eating meat when he tastes meat flavor and doesn’t complain about having to eat another bean soup. I don’t do this when preparing meals for vegetarians, though, because I’m not that much of a jerk.
The vegetable broth gets used when I need a base for a meal that does contain meat. You see, we don’t go through enough meat for me to make enough bone broth to cover every meal in between. Tonight, for instance – I’m making Chicken Tortilla Soup. Since I’m including chicken in the soup, it makes more sense for my budget to use vegetable broth. I would use the chicken broth for this if I could, but then I would run out sooner. Since I won’t (really, can’t) use packaged broths, it just makes sense for me to find a way to stretch it. I have been known to take chicken carcasses from other people, though – thanks, TR!
If you’ve never made vegetable broth before, it is incredibly easy. Even easier than bone broth! Just not as nutritious, of course, so I only use it for flavor. Here are the steps:
1) Save all your vegetable scraps. Anytime I dice an onion, mince some garlic, peel a carrot – I add the scraps to a plastic bag I keep in the freezer door. Anything can be saved, even if it’s a part you don’t normally eat (like onion skin or a carrot top), just make sure there are no signs of spoilage. If you see mold, then it goes straight to the compost pile.
2) When you need the stock for a soup, just throw all the scraps into a stock pot or slow cooker and cover with water. The stock pot is the better way to go for this one, since it doesn’t have to simmer as long (just until the color is deep enough for your liking). Just like the bone broth, however, you’ll heat the water until it starts to boil, then turn it down to a simmer. In as little as an hour or two, you can have a very flavorful stock.
Here is what it looks like before when you throw everything in:
I used my slow cooker that time because I was using my stock pot for something else. I don’t usually care about having it too deeply infused, though, just enough to impart some flavor, so afterward it looks like this:
That is today’s batch, which has some cilantro in it that was past its prime. It will lend some great flavor to my Mexican-inspired soup tonight. I don’t add salt or pepper to my stocks, since that can all be done when the actual meal is made. Fresh herbs are a great touch, though, if you have some that are not so pretty anymore.