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How do you elevate vegetable broth?

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?

asked by lloreen 7 months ago
20 answers 968 views
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Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Creative Director of Food52

added 7 months ago

Dried mushrooms have a lot going on in the umami department, and make a really great stock.

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pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added 7 months ago

Try a bouquet garnie of leak tops tied up with and bay leaves. You can add parsley as well. Tie together with kitchen twine.

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added 7 months ago

101 Cookbooks has best recipe ever for vegetable bouillon that allows for a rich, complex vegetable broth http://www.101cookbooks...

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added 7 months ago

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.

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added 7 months ago

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.

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added 7 months ago

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.

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Kristen W.

Kristen W. is a trusted home cook.

added 7 months ago

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.

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added 7 months ago

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!

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added 7 months ago

roast the veggie first until they caramelize

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added 7 months ago

*or just the alliums parts, which caramelizes nicely compared to other veggie.

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added 7 months ago

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...

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added 7 months ago

Instead of salting my stock, I add a big splash of soy sauce. It helps in the umami department too!

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added 7 months ago

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..

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added 7 months ago

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.

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added 7 months ago

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.

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added 7 months ago

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!

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added 7 months ago

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.

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AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added 7 months ago

Doenjang. (Use less salt in the dish or soup in which it's used.) ;o)

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added 7 months ago

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.