My standard vegetable broth just lacks the complexity of my chicken broth. Does anyone have suggestions on how to give it that extra umph of Unami? Maybe more sweetness or spice?
Dried mushrooms have a lot going on in the umami department, and make a really great stock.
Try a bouquet garnie of leak tops tied up with and bay leaves. You can add parsley as well. Tie together with kitchen twine.
101 Cookbooks has best recipe ever for vegetable bouillon that allows for a rich, complex vegetable broth http://www.101cookbooks...
I like to use both dried mushrooms and a little seaweed, and for extra umami-ness make sure to use some vegetables/scraps with lots of glutamates in their skin like tomatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, or carrots.
And don't forget that mouth feel can affect how satisfying something like broth is. So if you've already been doing some of the things suggested here, maybe try thickening your usual broth with pectin/gelatin first.
I use Mark Bittman's recipe for vegetable stock. His trick is he roasts his vegetables first until they are golden, adds the roasted vegetables to the stock pot with 4 cups of water, then deglaze the sheet pan with 2 cups of water. Then add all the liquid into the stock pot with another 2 cups of water. I love this vegetable stock. I do not use potatoes, but I use parsnips and turnips along with a lot of veges. The other options suggested are great as well.
If you're going to use it in an Asian dish, my secret weapon is Star Anise. One pod, added and simmered as you would use a bay leaf.
As others have mentioned, mushrooms and Parmesan rinds add umami. To this I would add that a tablespoon or two of toasted tomato paste also gives an umami boost.
I add whole birds eye chilies (with the tops chopped off) to our stock, which gives it a nice bit of depth and spice. Also definitely agree with the parmesan rinds and dried mushrooms, but find that they can be a bit too powerful for some recipes (delicate risottos in particular) so it depends on what you tend to make with your broth!
roast the veggie first until they caramelize
*or just the alliums parts, which caramelizes nicely compared to other veggie.
Give the raw vegs a quick roasting in a very hot oven before adding to the pot or give them a quick browning right in the pot before adding water...
Instead of salting my stock, I add a big splash of soy sauce. It helps in the umami department too!
i agree with one of the answers above. i just made chicken breasts/stock and flavorings, which would do very well in vegetable stock, are sliced ginger, star anise, sliced garlic and soy. dried shiitakes would be a great addition. i leave the star anise and ginger in the refrigerated broth for extra zip and remove before serving..
At my work we take our typical scrap, leek, carrots, cabbage cores, onions and fennel fronds, thyme, parsley etc. But we toss in 2 oranges cut and peppercorns. Makes a work of difference.
I'm a no recipe person. Well my Veg stock always includes carrots, celery and onion and from there what ever else seems interesting.
Other things I have added.
hot red pepper
red bell pepper
green bell pepper
any left over fresh herbs that I know I wont use in the next two days.
In Plenty, Yotam Ottlolenghi suggests adding prunes (yes, prunes!) to vegetable stock to amp up the depth of flavor. It sounds strange, but it totally works well!
My vote is for dried shiitake mushrooms. As a matter of fact, the liquid from just soaking dried shiitake mushrooms is quite flavorful itself, without the addition of other vegetables.
Roasting half of the vegetables (not all of them) will give a more balanced flavor.
Doenjang. (Use less salt in the dish or soup in which it's used.) ;o)
I do a combo of a bunch of below commenter's techniques - I brown the veggies first before adding water, drop in a Parmesan rind (or really any type of cheese I have on hand in the freezer), and add a Tbsp or so of miso or fish sauce.
In an email today, Saveur talks about roasting vegetables before using them to make stock, and several of you who responded to this query made the same recommendation. Unfortunately, Saveur's recipe says nothing about roasting the vegetables, and I have never done much vegetable roasting, so will one of you take pity on me and tell me what temperature and how long/what are the indicators that you're finished with the roast? Thanks!
I'd do 400-425F (depends on veg, try 425 first) and roast it until the top surface and perimeter of the vegetable that touched the oven is medium brown (general purpose) or medium-dark brown (if you want more smokiness in soup), but not very dark brown/charred (bitter, at least for me). I'd say 30-45 minutes, but keep your eyes on it once it is on 30 min-ish.
It will also matter WHAT you are roasting the effect you get from roasting it. If your are usuing leftover scraps youve saved up in the freezer, some of them will get sweeter and have more depth of flavor and some will just get bitter. SO when I make a meatless stock I especially like adding roasted beets and mushrooms to my frozen scraps, they add a deeps sweet and savory edge to the rest. If you are making a meat stock choose one or two vegetables to start with that you think go well with that meet and then follow foofaraw's instructions on temp/time.
Never use more cold water than what will JUST cover the veg. Bring it up to SIMMER, as slowly as possible. Never simmer more than 45 minutes. Good advice: never use veggies you would not eat. Veg stock should have as little "scrap" as possible.
Lemongrass, fresh ginger & fish sauce. Grow your own lemongrass. It's beautiful!