Vegetable Broth Help Needed

nancedarFebruary 23, 2014

Vegetarian vegetable broth recipes (6 to 10 quarts) are all over the web and in many of my cookbooks. I've tried several and am not pleased. The one with rutabaga, and turnips tastes really good on day one but after keeping it a few days refrigerated, or frozen and thawed, there is an underlying bitterness. Some call for both leeks and onions plus garlic which is supposed to give the layered flavor compounds likely tasted in chicken broth or beef broth but doesn't. Is there some magic combination of vegetables and seasonings that you know of that would let the broth taste good by itself? I will be using it as the base of many soups for my new diet - no meat, eggs, cheese, or bread. Thanks.

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The basic vegetable stock I make contains onions, carrots, tomatoes, celery, parsley, a garlic clove and sometimes Penzey's fines herbes.

For some vegan soups, I also like this old Rodale recipe:


16 cups water
24 unpeeled garlic cloves, crushed
4 medium-size carrots, halved
2 large onions, quartered
4 celery stalks, halved
2 small purple-topped turnips, quartered
2 sprigs parsley

Combine all ingredients in a five quart soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for one hour. Strain.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:51AM
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Do you roast the veg before boiling?

Edit: Or brown in a pan. Other stuff to add for deeper flavour: miso, tomato.

This post was edited by johnliu on Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 12:22

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Add some mushrooms.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:55AM
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Roasting and mushrooms - that'll do it!! Never tried miso for anything because of the very high sodium content.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 2:14PM
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Leave out the turnips and rutabagas, or use much less of them - parsnip is a better choice. Also, to balance the bitterness, add carrots, which are sweet, even if not roasted.

Check recipes for roasting onions in a crock pot, and use that as a basis for the stock. You might be able to roast other vegetables in the pot with the onions before you add water. I add tomato powder or dried tomatoes, and they also give a sweetness to the broth.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:14PM
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The classic onions, garlic, celery, carrots broth

1 - roast or caramelize the vegetables in a bit of oil, especially the onions.
2 - Simmer until the broth tastes "right"

Don't add salt or herbs until after you thaw it. Add other vegetables and sauteed mushrooms, if you want them, AFTER you thaw the frozen broth. As you found, storing in freezer temps enhances some bitterness.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:29PM
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I see what you mean. I glanced at a few veg stock recipes doing a search. Much too complicated and not necessary. Simplify as others have suggested above. I keep it simple and basic. Saute on very low heat, cut chunky,
2-3 large onions,
2-3 heads garlic,
6-8 carrots,
4-6 ribs celery,
parsnips are good but i rarely have them. Saute on low just to give some heat and soften, not browning. Takes 20-30 min. Add water 2 inches below veg level, (veggies will sweat liquid soon), add a large fresh or fresh frozen tomato, chopped, or 2 med, or a dozen cherry toms. Bring to a simmer, don't boil. Keep it low and slow for about an hour and add course chopped parsley with stems, simmer another 1/2-1hr. Boiling for a long time can cause some bitterness. I don't add any dried spices or salt/blk pepper. I like to add any spices and other veggies when my stock becomes a final dish later on.
(I add a fresh hot pepper early on but that is optional.)
If your veggies are not soft and under water level after an hour, add a bit more water.
Strain, chill quickly, and freeze. It makes a nice rich broth/stock about the color of ac vinegar.
I freeze in pint containers. 1 pint i usually need right away and may fridge another, but no longer than 24 hrs. It thaws so quickly it is best fresh or frozen. I just run the container under warm water until it releases and add the frozen stock right into lightly sauteed veggies for that meal choice. Last night i used a pint in a sweet potato coconut curry. Added lots of veggies. Last week a corn chowder, and a mixed dark greens, mushroom and lentil soup.
Once you get a basic broth that you like, less garlic, more onion or tomato, etc., it can become a hundred different soups or stews very quickly.

Expensive ingredients like leeks, lemongrass, snap peas, kale, i like fresh cooked flavor anyway.
(expensive in the winter with the garden under snow).

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:56AM
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I know there will be plenty of objections to my suggestion:

After you have spent time and money to make a big pot of broth and it is not tasting good, what do you do?

Don't throw it out!!!

Most of the time a 1/2 teaspoon of MSG will fix it.

Don't use bouillon cubes. They may be meat based.

I personally do not consider small quantity of MSG occasionally will do you any harm


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:11AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7

Dcarch brought up the subject I was going to add to this discussion: glutamate. The savory flavor in meat broths is due in large part to the glutamate in the meat. Some good vegetarian sources of glutamate are tomatoes, mushrooms, fermented things like soy sauce and miso, and roasting brings out more of the glutamate in all veggies. Parmesan cheese is a good source too, although the OP doesn't want that, others might. So MSG also works.

I'm not really saying anything that wasn't said before, just providing a why to some of those suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:00AM
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I've been a vegetarian for 15+ years now so I've tried a lot of vegetable broth. I know you're asking for recipes, and I can't really help with that as I don't make my own broth. But in case you are looking for another option, I can recommend a few.

I generally don't like packaged vegetable broth as I find the carrot taste to be overwhelming. I do however like the Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon with Herbs, which makes a very light, nice broth (I usually use it double strength). The Better Than Bouillon in the No Chicken and No Beef flavors are also really good. They have a mushroom and a vegetable one as well, and they are both good but I like the faux meat flavor ones better.

Both can be a little hard to find in a regular grocery store (I usually get mine at Sprouts or Whole Foods) but Amazon has both.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:50AM
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