Remember what I said the other day, about sometimes googling the 'world's best' and the name of whatever food item I want a recipe for? Well, I did it again. And it worked, again. Marvelously.
We are heading fast into fall weather (ok, so maybe it'll start getting cold this weekend, after it hits 80 degrees tomorrow) and I have been on the hunt for a nice vegetable broth to mix in to my rotation of chicken soup and beef stew. Sometimes you just need to feed a vegan friend some good home cookin, you know? Or maybe you're a hardcore carnivore (raises hand) and have a healthy appreciation for the way your body feels and your jeans fit when you eat more veggies. That's where I'm at right now, the tight jeans stage. Back to the broth...
My favorite soups or broths are the ones that have a decent bit of oomph to them, something that gives them some staying power, or makes it feel like you've consumed more then hot water. Turns out there is a name for this! It's called umami.
Umami is a Japanese word that means 'pleasant savory taste,' and it is imparted by something called glutamate, which is a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, which is a word I never thought I'd need to spell again after high school/college. Long story short, umami is something that is very important in making yummy food yummy, and you can base a recipe off things that are high in glutamates and ribonucleotides and make yourself some very yummy food. You can even pick out specific vegan/vegetarian items that are high in glutamates/ribonucleotides like tomatoes, dried shiitake mushrooms, marmite, and kombu/dashi seaweed.
There's a lot of in depth information on the web about glutamates, so google it if you want to learn more, as I am moving on to the in depth portion of broth making. I based my recipe on the one found here, which also contains a much better explanation, but I also tweaked that recipe to match what I had in the house or was willing to purchase. The original recipe calls for marmite (Amazon affiliate link!), which I didn't have, but would definitely try sometime if I came across it at the store. Or on Amazon, duh.
Amy's Delicious Vegetable Broth
vegetable oil or butter
2c roughly chopped onion
1c roughly chopped carrot
1/3c chopped celery leaves (or celery itself)
2 cloves minced garlic (don't you dare use the stuff from a jar)
1 regular sized container button/white mushrooms, washed, roughly chopped
1 star anise (buy it once, own it forever!)
1 teaspoon salt
10 whole peppercorns
4-5 bay leaves
1/2 can tomato paste
3-4 fresh parsley leaves and stems, roughly chopped
1 embarrassingly small piece of fresh rosemary (mine was maybe 3", maybe)
2"x3" piece of kombu (dried seaweed)
7 cups water
-Use the oil or butter to carmelize the onion, carrot, and celery (only if using actually celery, don't try to carmelize the leaves, that'd be silly) in your soup pot
-Deglaze the pan with the liquor of your choice (original recipe calls for dry vermouth, I used water because I'm lame and don't have vermouth).
-Add in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then take down to a simmer.
-Simmer until broth is reduced to the desired intensity (I reduced mine by half, but be forewarned that you won't get a giant vat of broth if you do that).
-Strain the broth, then consume, or use to make other delicious stuff like vegetable soup.
-The original recipe recommends making this in a pressure cooker, see link. I don't have one, so I did it in a stock pot to no ill effect.
-If you quadruple this recipe, it's entirely possible that you might be able to take over the world
-This doesn't taste like anise/black licorice. I promise. Pinky swear. Seriously, just try it.
Let me know if you try this broth recipe! It's one of the most adventurous broth recipes I've ever made, but the results were well worth the off the beaten path ingredients!