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BEYOND TRIM: Too much sodium can spoil the broth

If you want a quick bowl of healthy soup, stock up on homemade broth

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

Everybody loves a nice bowl of soup, but most canned soups come with an unhealthy amount of sodium. The can itself also can be an issue if you are trying to limit your exposure to certain chemicals. These are just two of the reasons that I make a lot of my own soups.

And if I’m going to make a homemade soup, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to start with canned broth or stock if I’m hoping to avoid sodium and BPA. I used to make tons of turkey and chicken broth, but since I have been eating more plant-based meals these days, I wanted so see whether I could make my own vegetable broth. It’s surprisingly easy, and a money-saving bonus is that I use vegetable scraps that might go down the garbage disposal otherwise.

I just keep a quart-size bag in the freezer and any time I cook something with onions, celery, or carrots I save the peels, leafy parts, and scraps in the bag. When the bag gets full it’s time to make stock. Here’s how to do it:

1. Add the contents of the bag to a large stock pot. (You can add additional vegetables at this point, too. I usually need to throw in an extra carrot or two).

2. Cover the vegetables with 8 cups of water

3. Add a bay leaf, 6 to 8 whole peppercorns, and salt if you are using it.

4. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce the heat until the mixture is just simmering.

5. Let it simmer for 60 to 90 minutes.

6. Set a colander into a large bowl and pour in the stock. Use a big spoon or your potato masher to press down on the veggies and push out as much of the moisture as you can. 

7. Discard the vegetable pulp.

At this point your stock is ready to use. You can store it in the refrigerator for a few days or put it in the freezer. This recipe makes about 6 cups, which is just about enough for a nice-sized batch of soup. I also use it to cook beans and grains, to saute vegetables in place of oil, and to moisten mashed potatoes and casseroles.

If you plan to use your stock to saute vegetables, a nice tip is to pour the stock into an ice cube tray and freeze it. This way you can just pull out a cube or two at a time.

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