Rich, Delicious Vegetable Broth Rivals Beef Broth For Flavor!
If you want to make a delicious soup, you have to start with a soup base or a broth that is so flavorful it will stand on its own. In order to do that we have to concentrate the flavor of vegetables in some way. In this case, we are going to roast them to the point that they are lightly caramelized which intensifies their flavor without destroying the integrity of the vegetables. Then we will extract those flavors by adding water and briefly simmering them until the vegetables are just translucent.
In this video I am adapting a recipe by Andy Baraghani, senior food editor of bon appetit. This recipe has evidently been around a long time. It has been a broth base for soups made in Japan and has gone through various incarnations around the world.
I have made several changes based on my personal notions of how I think a soup base should look and taste, as well as in an effort to increase the nutritional value of the soup.
The first change I’ve made is to eliminate the oil, which affects the functioning our arteries1.
Secondly, I remove the kombu and replace it with a safer seaweed. Kombu, also called Kelp, can add toxic levels of iodine to one’s diet. A 2oz bag of Kombu is enough iodine for five years for an average adult. A quarter gram of Kombu a day is too much. That’s is .008 ounce. Dulse, Lavar (or Nori), and Wakame have safe iodine levels. Never use hijiki, because it is very high in arsenic.
I save the miso and shiitake mushrooms until last. I see no reason to roast dried mushrooms. Dehydrating them already intensifies their flavor and I don’t want to risk scorching them.
Finally, I simmer my broth for less time. I feel if you cook vegetable broth for an hour, you break down the cell walls of the vegetables and can end up with a soup base that tastes like old food, or overcooked vegetables. Rather than cooking down the broth to reduce by half, I prefer to use less water and cook the vegetables only until they are soft and the onions and celery are translucent. This way, we transfer the flavor of the caramelized vegetables into the broth without destroying the integrity of the vegetables themselves. This assures a fresh flavor.
Also, I wait until the last five minutes of simmering process to add the sea vegetables and the onion skins. We want the lovely golden color from the onion skins, but if you add them prematurely, they can impart a bitter flavor to the broth. The seaweed, likewise, is likely to dissolve into the broth making it cloudy. This is why I add it during the last five minutes. This also prevents the flavor of the sea vegetables from overpowering the more subtle flavors of the other vegetables. Note that the seaweed also affects the color of the broth and adds a little salt.
Finally, once the broth is drained we will add miso, a fermented soy paste. Miso also adds sodium to the broth, so there is no need for additional salt.3
You can find more information on the nutritional elements of the seaweed, oils, and sodium by clicking on links to short videos on the subjects by respected nutrition researcher, Dr. Michael Greger, of https://nutritionfacts.org,
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 large yellow onions reserve peels
- 1/2 cup dried seaweed Wakame, Dulse, or Lavar (Nori)
- 3 tablespoons white soy miso
- 1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms whole or sliced
- 10 cups filtered water
Cut celery and carrots into 1/8-inch slices. Julienne onions into 1/4-inch strips. Toss thoroughly, breaking onion sections apart, and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Cut garlic bulb in half and place cut-side down baking sheet.
Transfer to an oven that has been preheated to 300º. Roast, uncovered for fifteen minutes. Check vegetables and turn them over with a pair of tongs. Covering up any edges that are beginning to brown. We want the vegetables to attain a golden color but we do not want the edges to scorch or char.
Return to oven and repeat process three or four more times up to one hour and fifteen minutes or until the vegetables are limp and developing a golden color.
Remove from heat and transfer to an uncovered 3-quart saucepan. Remove garlic from skins and add back to the vegetable mixture.
Stir in ten cups filtered water (or the best water you have) and move to stovetop. On medium-high heat, bring to a soft boil or fast simmer. This should take about fifteen minutes. The vegetables should be nearly done at this point and the broth should have a lovely golden hue.
Add the onion skins and the seaweed. Reduce heat to a slow simmer for five minutes.
Strain liquid into a warmed heat-proof bowl, pressing gently. (To prevent breakage, heat the bowl in the microwave for one minute or submerge in hot water.)
Stir in miso.
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