Everything But the Kitchen Sink Broth

by moonwatcher on December 5, 2012

If I’m going to make a pot of soup like I described in the previous post, I always like to deepen the flavor a little bit by adding broth instead of water. But packaged broth can be expensive, and have too much sodium for me, or even hidden oils. . Over the years I’ve read a lot of recipes for homemade broth, and never felt like I had the patience or energy or even all of the ingredients at the same time to do it “right.” But then one day many years ago, I read in my old vegetarian cookbook, The Greens, that stock could be made from kale stems. I tried it one night for the kale potato soup in the book and was pleasantly surprised how sweet and flavorful it was, and how easy. Then I remembered Anna Thomas, the author of The Vegetarian Epicure, and most recently the wonderful Love Soup (which has lots of vegan options), and her potato peel broth. I started noticing I was cutting up a lot of veggies and tossing odds and ends into the compost bucket. I started saving these odds and ends in a freezer bag. And when I had enough, I would throw them in a pot, add a little garlic powder and some chopped parsley and let it simmer.  Like this:

Over time, I found this combination of odds and ends, which is what you see above, to be my favorite: the green ends of leeks, winter squash innards (threads and seeds), kale stems. Other good add-ins are potato and sweet potato peels or bits, celery ends, carrots ends, onion ends and peels, parsnip ends, and mushroom, collard or chard stems. Mix and match the veggie scraps  as you go.

Cover them with water, bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low, and let simmer  covered for at least a couple of hours. Strain, use, or store in frig or even freeze it.

This is the kind of process that actually improves with benign neglect, which means it’s perfect for me. I can leave it on for too long. I can use whatever I have on hand. I can play it by ear and not measure how many cups of water to how many cups of veggie scraps. It always comes out fine. Each time it tastes a little different, depending on which veggie scraps predominate. That’s why I like to have a leek green and a few kale stems and squash innards as a base, if I can. They all add a depth and sweetness to the broth.

You can make an instant soup with this simply by heating some of it up and adding chard, carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, or whatever suits your fancy, and let them simmer a few minutes until the veggies are just done. Pour it over any grain and/or beans you may have, or any little bit of leftover something (like chopped baked sweet potato or a bit of chili or red beans) and you have an impromptu bowl of soup. Nice for this time of year when I can see my own breath and it’s dark at 4:30.  Or when those tenacious viral bugs are making their rounds. Or I just want something hot to help me get warm. This will do the trick. And it costs nothing more than the veggies I already buy, and a little time to simmer some healthy magic.

The “blessing,” left over after making Creamy Potato Leek Soup from StaightUpFood.

Maria

 

 

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 D'Ann Martin December 6, 2012 at 7:28 am

Wow! What a great idea! I’m one to hang on to leftover veggies and such to use for a later dish, but I never thought about using the scraps for broth! I always stash my leftover veggies in a gallon size plastic baggie in my freezer. When it’s full, I make some soup or stew. Now I’ll keep a separate baggie for scraps to make the broth for the soup instead of using expensive store bought! Thanks so much:)

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2 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

You’re welcome, D’Ann! Welcome to the Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink broth club!

Maria

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3 cheriep December 6, 2012 at 7:29 am

This is exactly how I make my stock. Whatever is left from the veggie trimmings. It’s delicious, sodium free, and virtually free. After I’m done I can compost the drained veggies. Very eco friendly.

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4 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:43 am

Hi cherlep,

Yes, yes! I compost the drained veggies, too.

Maria

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5 Cheryl December 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

You make it sound so easy! Especially with the idea of freezing broth ingredients as you go, brewing broth at your own convenience. I’m going to try it. Thanks, Maria!

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6 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:44 am

You’re welcome, Cheryl!

Maria

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7 Christi B December 6, 2012 at 7:38 am

I love the way you think. Cooking doesn’t have to be one particular recipe. I think this way with ”old school” cooking. I just had an ahah moment with this post. Thank you so much!!! As always I enjoyed this post.
On another note, I was at the hospital with my mom yesterday and the nurse told me her mom has MS. I told her your story in hopes she could benefit from a vegan lifestyle.
Have a blessed day.

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8 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:45 am

Hi Christi B,

Glad you had an ahah moment reading this post. And thanks so much for passing on my story to the nurse for her Mom. Healing blessings to both your Moms.

Maria

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9 trijbits December 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

This is exactly what I do! Save the veggie scraps in a 1-gallon freezer bag and them simmer them in the slow cooker for 6 or more hours. Commercially sold veggie broth is not available at all where we live. And if you compost, you can *still* use the scraps after they’ve been used to make the broth.

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10 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:47 am

Hi karen,

I have been thinking I’d like to try it in my slow cooker, too, so thanks for the reminder. And yes, cooked scraps are as good for compost as raw ones. Thanks!

Maria

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11 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie December 6, 2012 at 8:27 am

This is a great idea when you need to clean out the fridge before going out of town! Definitely keeping this in mind – I hate throwing away produce!!!

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12 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

Me, too, Caity! It helps me feel like I’m getting the best use out of the money I pay for organic produce, too.

Maria

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13 Nicole O'Shea December 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

Love it!

I do this, too, and it always tastes so good!

xoxo Nicole

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14 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

But of course!! Two peas in a pod. :)

xoxo

Maria

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15 Kathy December 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

I love the idea of freezing them. Just never occurred to me before. I’ve always heard to use the scraps but by the time there are enough, they have started to rot.

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16 moonwatcher December 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

Thanks, Kathy. The timing without freezing used to trip me up, too.

Maria

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17 Donna McFarland December 8, 2012 at 3:14 am

Yayyyyyy!! Thank you Maria, for bringing this “old school” & really valuable tip to our attention! Buying expensive boxes of veggie stock is CRAZY…use what we HAVE, that’s the very best, most fully conscious- way to go! I just love, love, love your blog and have gotten sooo many great ideas, recipes and motivation from it! I too, have been a Swank ms diet follower, for almost 24 years now! No meds whatsoever…thank you, for sharing your life and precious life experience with us all.

Big hugs to you,
donna

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18 moonwatcher December 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

Hi Donna!

Thanks for this enthusiastic comment about the broth and the blog. I am so honored that you are following along and enjoying it so much. I remember you from my time at the Swank board and know without a doubt you are an inspiration to many people there. Here’s to your next 24 years with absolutely no meds whatsoever. I’m going on 17 years, and counting. Hooray for both of us!

bug hugs back,

Maria

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19 sepeters December 8, 2012 at 8:05 am

What a wonderful tip; brilliant in it’s sheer simplicity! I think we all had the same thought reading this, “Why didn’t I think of that!” I’ve been making my broth from scraps (thanks to Mom) for years and never thought to freeze them. I am going to start several bags for different types of broth, too! And cooking the potato skins will keep them from sprouting in my vermicompost! Woo hoo! Thank you!

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20 moonwatcher December 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

Hi Stephanie,

You are very welcome! I so enjoyed your enthusiasm about this post, I gigled myself. It is so much FUN to realize something like this, isn’t it? Perhaps you’ll come back and post us about the different types of flavor combinations you decide to freeze for your broth. It just works really great for me, especially living by myself. Gives me time to accumulate enough for a big batch.

Maria

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21 Mary Kate December 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

This is generally how I make my stock, but I never thought about using kale stems and squash innards! I am adding those to my repertoire immediately. My frozen stock reserves are dangerously low right now.

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22 moonwatcher December 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

Glad you like the suggestions, Mary Kate!

Maria

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23 Ginger January 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm

This is a great idea. I usually compost scraps, which could still be composted after making broth. Ooooh I like that.

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24 moonwatcher January 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Thanks, Ginger! Love your name.

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25 Carole July 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Wow! I never would have thought to do this! I luv potatoes! (Yes, I’m Irish) and sweet potatoes skins along with squash innards! How interesting! Celery cut-offs and onion ends along with pcs. of ginger perhaps! You are a gem! Hugs from PA, Carole

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26 moonwatcher July 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Thanks so much, Carole!! You can save any combination that appeals to you–I like your onion/celery/ginger idea!! You are a gem too. :)

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