9 ways to cook with vegetable broth
I haven’t bought vegetable broth for about 10 years. Instead, I save my vegetable peels and scraps, stash them in the freezer and when I need broth, I simmer the peels in water, strain them and voilà—Tetra Pak-free, free broth. You can read my post on this simple broth-making process here—one of the first I wrote when I started my blog in 2014.
So now that you have a way to use up your vegetable peels and scraps, you may way wonder how you will use up your homemade broth. The following ideas will help.
1. Make soup
When I make a vegetable-packed soup like minestrone, I add water to the pot, not broth, because the vegetables make their own broth. But some soups need broth for flavor, such as potato-leek soup or chowders. And if you have made a vat of vegetable-packed soup—especially one that contains grains—it often thickens up over time, becoming more stew-like. If you prefer it more soup-like, add a bit of vegetable broth to the pot.
2. Cook lentils or beans
Before I make dal—especially if I’m using larger green or brown lentils, rather than, say, small red ones—I often cook the lentils ahead of time in either vegetable broth or broth left over from cooking beans in my pressure cooker. And I may have cooked those beans in broth also. This kind of constant ingredient reincarnation speeds up cooking.
3. Cook grains
Use broth to add flavor to cracked wheat, rice, farro, quinoa, polenta, millet and so on. In some of the broth I made for this post, I cooked some freekeh (wheat grains that have been roasted while still green). Because I had cooked a fairly concentrated batch of broth, I added a combination of broth and water to the grains. I’ll use the freekeh in grain bowls, tabbouleh and, if we have any left, some fried freekeh (think fried rice) or stuffed bell peppers (looks like I need another post on using up leftover cooked grains…).
4. Make creamy white sauce for pot pie
Make a bechamel sauce, thin it out a bit with the broth, add vegetables, place in a dish and drape with pastry for a pot pie. I have a recipe for a vegetable pot pie in my book, which will be out on April 13th. By the way, Indigo Canada has selected my book as one of the most anticipated books of spring!
5. Whip up a stir-fry sauce
For many sauces, you need broth. My daughter Charlotte makes this stir-fry sauce often. It’s delicious.
6. Reheat that stir fry
To revive leftover, cold stir fry that may have dried out a bit in the refrigerator, heat it along with a a couple of tablespoons of broth (or more if needed) in a sauté pan. Stir until the broth evaporates. You can reheat leftover pasta similarly.
7. Sauté vegetables
Sauté vegetables in a bit of fat. While they’re still crunchy, add a few tablespoons of broth to the pan, cover and let simmer for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the lid, add a bit of acid and salt to taste.
8. Bake stuffing
Do you have leftover stale bread? Use that and your leftover broth for stuffing. (By the way there is no rule saying you must cook stuffing inside a bird. And no rule saying you must eat stuffing at Thanksgiving only.) Sauté chopped onions and celery in lots of fat, add chopped fresh sage, thyme and rosemary (or dried), salt and pepper. Stir in cubed dried bread, pour in broth to moisten, bake in a small Dutch oven or another type of covered dish—glass or cast iron work well—at 350°F for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes or until browned.
9. Make gravy
Like stuffing, you can eat gravy at any time, not only at Thanksgiving. You’ll need broth to thin it out. This mushroom gravy recipe from New York Times Cooking is fabulous.
Freeze excess broth
If you’ve made more broth than you need, freeze some to use later. I like having at least one or two jars of this on hand in the freezer. And yes, I freeze food in glass. You can also freeze broth in ice cube trays. Remove the frozen cubes and store in a jar in the freezer. Grab a handful when you need them.