One might say the base player is the most vital role in the band. The rest of the band greatly depends on the bassist's lead. If the guitarist or one of the brass skips a note, maybe no one will notice. But, if the bassist makes a mistake, well, gasp! Everyone in the band and the audience will know instantly.
It is the same for a recipe that requires a vegetarian broth. The broth is the base. The broth can make no mistakes. Because if the broth is off key, the rest of the recipe follows. Here is a versatile vegetarian broth I was introduced to last year by a nutritionist friend. I use it as a base for many soups, stews, or even rice or risotto dishes. I sip it as well when coming down with a bug or when I just want to eat lightly. It is loaded with minerals and other nutrients and has much less sodium than the store bought vegetarian broths.
If you are not a fan of the taste of the sweet potato, you may want to reduce the amount here because it can be a little strong. Or, alternatively, you can remove the sweet potato half way through the simmering time to lessen it's role in the band!
Vegetarian Broth Base
- 1 large unpeeled onion
- 1 leek, washed of all grit, white and green parts
- 3 large unpeeled carrots
- 3 stalks of celery, including leaves
- 2 large unpeeled red potatoes
- 2 unpeeled sweet potatoes or yams
- 1 or 2 tomatoes - optional
- 2 unpeeled cloves garlic
- 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 small strip of kombu, a seaweed found in Asian section of store
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- filtered water – about 2-3 quarts
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or more – optional
- Cut all cleaned vegetables in quarters or large pieces and add to a large stock pot.
- Add garlic, parsley, thyme, kombu, peppercorns and bay leaves.
- Cover with filtered water. (The amount of water varies according to size of vegetables and stock pot.)
- Bring to a boil and then place on a low simmer with the lid off.
- Simmer for at least two hours, but a longer time will provide a more intense flavor.
- Check periodically that the vegetables are submerged, but do not add too much water as it will dilute the flavor.
- When concentrated to your liking, strain into a large bowl to cool a bit.
- Add salt to taste or leave unseasoned to store more as a stock (and add salt later to the recipe).
- This broth can be frozen for later use.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/6482286565/">Official U.S. Air Force</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>