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Homemade vegetable broth is easy to make and great to have in your freezer to create nutritious meals in a pinch. A cornerstone of many vegetarian dishes, a good vegetable broth can be the base for risottos, soups and stews. Freeze homemade vegetable broth, so you have it on hand in various proportions to use in your everyday cooking. You can even make vegetable broth easily using leftover scrap pieces of vegetables, including onions, celery, carrots, herbs and a variety of greens. While homemade vegetable broth will stay safe to eat indefinitely, freezer storage of the broth beyond two to three months can impart some off flavors in the finished dish.

Vegetable broth should be slightly cooled before packing into bags, containers or jars for storage. Allow broth to cool no longer than an hour before using a ladle to pour it into your storage containers. If you are using an upright storage container, be sure to leave an inch of headspace to accommodate for expansion. Seal the containers, jars or bags and label them with the date and name of the item. Cool completely in the refrigerator before arranging the vegetable broth containers in the freezer.

Freeze broth in containers of many sizes. Go for a mix of quart, pint and half- pint jars, containers or bags and be sure that whatever you are using is freezer-safe. Some wide-mouth canning jars are labeled as freezer safe and are a good choice for storing vegetable broth. For smaller portions, fill an ice cube tray full of vegetable broth, freeze it, remove the cubes and store them together in a freezer-safe bag. Using freezer-safe bags is also a good way to save space; fill them up, seal them and lay them flat in your freezer.

Make a batch regularly to replenish your supply and ensure that you always have some on hand. Thaw vegetable broth in the refrigerator overnight. Or run cool water over the bottom of the container, remove the frozen broth and heat it in a saucepan. Once thawed, use vegetable broth within three to four days for best quality and safety.

This vegetable broth recipe has a delicate flavor and is ideal for making light soups. Something you may want to make this week before all the rich food appears.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Use this broth to make the soups below. Don’t add salt. Salt can be added when you use the broth to make a soup recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced in chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced in chunks
  • 1 leek, sliced in chunks
  • 1 bulb garlic, halved
  • 1 medium potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs parsley

Directions

Place all ingredients and 1 gallon water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook 2 hours, then strain and discard solids. Strain once more through a fine mesh sieve. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir before using if broth separates. Freeze in smaller containers for use with a soup recipe.

Vegetable Broth From Scraps

It’s a shame to waste food and you really don’t have to ? Just get yourself some large freezer bags and start saving virtually everything to make great vegetable broth. Basically you don’t have to throw away the top of a bell pepper, just toss it in a freezer bag, stem and all, to eventually add them to your broth pot. Use the end of carrots or celery that may be going bad soon, just cut them all into 2 inch pieces and add them to your freezer bag collection. Spinach, red cabbage, potato peels, parsley stems or whatever, don’t throw anything away.

1. Place a large freezer bag of vegetable scraps and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, herbs, etc.) in a large pot and cover completely with water.

2. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour, two is better.

4. Then, strain out the vegetable pieces and your broth is ready for use or freezing.

Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups collard greens (or greens of choice), chopped
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade vegetable broth
  • 1 can Borlotti beans (or beans of choice) drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb small pasta shells
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Sauté garlic and onion with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot until onions are translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add parsley and collard greens, cover and cook until completely cooked down, about 10 minutes.

Add beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to boil and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain and pour pasta into soup mixture. Stir to mix well. Simmer 10 minutes.

Serve hot drizzled with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over the top of the soup.

Chick Pea Soup with Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. spaghetti, broken into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Sauté onions and rosemary with oil in a large pot over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 additional minutes. Stir in chick peas and broth.

Bring mixture to a boil, season with salt and pepper and then reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cut spaghetti and cook until spaghetti is al dente. Garnish with parsley.

Winter Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 (10-ounce) packages (or 4 cups from a larger bag) frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, (about 1/2 pound) diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons

Directions

Put 2 cups of the corn and the milk into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over  medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and zucchini and cook, stirring until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of corn and the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pureed corn and the diced tomatoes and cook until warmed through, but not boiling. Add the salt and season with pepper. Serve garnished with the basil ribbons.

Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 acorn squash, halved, seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Garnishes: yogurt or shredded cheese or croutons and sliced chives

Directions

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, roast the acorn squash, cut side down, until soft, about 45 minutes. Scoop out the squash flesh and set aside.

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute carrot, apple and onion until soft. Season with ginger and allspice. Add the squash and the broth. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree with a hand-held immersion blender. (Alternatively, in batches, puree in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.)

Remove from the heat, ladle the soup into serving bowsl and top with garnishes of choice. Serve with warm bread, if desired.


Nothing beats the winter chill like a steaming bowl of soup. Soup can be filling and also budget-friendly, since it can last for weeks or months in the freezer. Let the soup recipes below warm your cold bones. Soup doesn’t have to be rich and creamy to be satisfying, though. The soup recipes here include recipes for a vegetable soup, a chicken soup and several other easy soup recipes that are healthier versions of their more traditional counterparts. I have also added recipes for homemade broth, if you are so inclined.

Here are a few tips to help you add flavor to your soup recipes. These tips will help take bland tasting soups and turn them into delicious, full flavored soups.

Use fresh ingredients at their peak of flavor. Many make the mistake of using old or leftover ingredients, especially vegetables, to make soup. The basic soup vegetables needed for starting soups are, onions, carrots, leeks, celery, sometimes green and/or red bell pepper, parsnips and garlic. Of course you can add other vegetables depending upon your soup recipe.

Homemade broth can really make a difference in how your soup tastes. Soups need bones. Unless you are a vegetarian, this is important to develop a flavor base. You need a flavorful broth or stock and soup bones are key to making a flavorful broth. I save bones from steak, chicken or roasts, etc., in my freezer for this purpose. If not, you can buy soup bones or meat parts that have bone attached. You can buy a whole chicken and keep the non-meaty parts like the neck or back for soups. Chicken wings or a turkey carcass also make a delicious soup stock. Beef shanks make excellent beef stock.

Roasting the bones in a hot oven first also adds more flavor and you do not need to add fat to brown them in the soup pot. Delicious vegetable broth can be made by roasting the vegetables first.

Fish bones are needed for a good fish stock, even shrimp shells will work for this type of stock.

Remove Fat From Chilled Broth

An advantage to making the broth ahead of time, is that the broth can be chilled overnight and, the fat that accumulates on the top of the broth, can be removed before making the soup.

Use herbs and seasonings. Find good fresh, flavorful salt free seasonings. Experiment with different herbs and spices. Try different chilies (they range from mild to hot) and, they are especially good to add to bean soups. Adding freshly ground black pepper can also make a difference and increase flavor in a soup recipe.

Take your time and let good flavorful soups simmer for a few hours or use a crock pot. Make plenty and enjoy delicious, healthy soups even more the next day. Also, put some in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner.

Stock Vegetables

Easy Method for Making Homemade Broth for Soup

Vegetables do not need to be peeled – just wash – peel and all. Use these broths in the recipes below. Of course, you can use canned broth, if you do not have time to make the broth.

CHICKEN STOCK

Roast 2 lbs. of chicken bones in the oven at 425 degrees F. for 30 minutes with 3 carrots, 2 onions halved, 2 leeks and 2 stalks of celery in a roasting pan. Transfer to a soup pot and add 2 gallons of water, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black whole peppercorns and simmer until reduced to half. Strain the broth and refrigerate overnight. Remove the fat and continue with your soup recipe or freeze in pint bags. This makes 1 gallon of chicken stock that will last over 1 year if frozen

SHELLFISH STOCK

Roast 2 lbs of shrimp or lobster shells or fish bones in the oven at 325 degrees F. for 40 minutes with 3 carrots, 2 onions halved, 2 leeks and 2 stalks of celery in a roasting pan. Transfer to a soup pot and add 2 gallons of water, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black whole peppercorns and simmer until reduced to half. Strain the broth and continue with your soup recipe or freeze in pint bags. This makes 1 gallon of fish stock that will last over 1 year if frozen

VEGETABLE STOCK

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a roasting pan add 4 carrots, 3 onions halved, 2 leeks, 3 stalks of celery, 2 shallots and 4 tomatoes cut in half. Roast for 45 minutes. Transfer to a soup pot and add 2 gallons of water, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black whole peppercorns and simmer until reduced to half. Strain the broth and continue with your soup recipe or freeze in pint bags. This makes 1 gallon of vegetable stock that will last over 1 year if frozen

BEEF STOCK

Roast 2 lbs of beef bones in the oven at 425 degrees F. for 30 minutes with 3 carrots, 2 onions halved, 2 leeks and 2 stalks of celery in a roasting pan. Transfer to a soup pot and add 2 gallons of water, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black whole peppercorns and simmer until reduced to half. Strain the broth and refrigerate overnight. Remove the fat and continue with your soup recipe or freeze in pint bags. This makes 1 gallon of beef stock that will last over 1 year if frozen

Winter Soups

Potato and Kale Soup

Collard or mustard greens can be substituted for the kale.

Servings 8

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces bacon or turkey bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium canned
  • 8 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, root ends trimmed
  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

2. In a heavy stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, potatoes and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a bowl; lightly mash with a fork (or use an immersion blender). Return mashed vegetables to the soup pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in kale, a handful at a time. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the kale is tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Root Vegetable and Apple Soup

Servings 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, large, peeled and diced
  • 8 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 small onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable broth or low sodium canned
  • 1/2 cup Marsala (optional)
  • 2 ounces dried apples
  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche or Greek yogurt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Place the diced vegetables and fresh apples on a baking sheet and toss with the walnut oil, honey, rosemary, five spice powder, salt and pepper. Roast, turning often, until vegetables are softened and lightly caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes.

3. Combine the vegetable broth, Marsala, and dried apples in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; simmer for 20 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables.

Immersion Blender

4. Working in small batches, puree the ingredients in a blender; (or use a hand immersion blender in the soup pot) and transfer to a saucepan. If the soup is too thick, thin with hot water or vegetable broth.

5. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle a little creme fraiche or yogurt over the top of each serving and swirl with a skewer or a knife. 

Easy Minestrone

Servings 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks, medium-sized, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable or chicken broth or low sodium canned
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red potato, large-sized, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves or Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta (whole wheat, if possible)
  • 15 ounces white beans, canned, drained and rinsed
  • 2 zucchini, trimmed, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, washed, stems removed or a bag of baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks, garlic and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Pour in broth and water. Add potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

2. Add orzo and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 5 minutes. Add beans and zucchini and continue to cook, partially covered, until the vegetables and pasta are tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season the soup with vinegar. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan.

Chicken and Brown Rice Soup

Serves 8

To make a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth and substitute quartered button mushrooms and/or cubed firm tofu for the chicken.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups homemade chicken broth or low sodium canned, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 small chicken breast (about 6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced or other greens of choice

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.

2. Add remaining 7 1/2 cups of broth, water, rice, chicken and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 35 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through.

3. Remove bay leaf and stir in kale. Continue cooking just until kale is wilted and tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Bean and Cabbage Soup

A thick, simple soup for a chilly afternoon, this dish is easy to make and tastes even better a day later.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red or white beans (1/2 pound), rinsed and picked over (or use low sodium canned beans)
  • 2 quarts water or homemade chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 head cabbage (about 1 1/4 pounds), cored and shredded
  • 1 – 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each parsley, thyme, a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Directions:

If using canned beans skip step 1.

1. Combine the beans and broth or water in a large saucepan or pot. Discard any of the beans that float. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer one hour. Season to taste with salt. Do not discard bean cooking water.

2. In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the onions, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring, until tender, five to eight minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant, and add the cabbage and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, for five to 10 minutes until the cabbage has wilted.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, salt to taste and the red pepper flakes or cayenne, and continue to cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture smells fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and their liquid. If the vegetables aren’t covered with liquid, add more so that they’re just covered. Add the bouquet garni, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. The beans should be soft. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, passing grated Parmesan, if desired, to sprinkle on.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: The cooked beans will keep for four days in the refrigerator. The soup also will keep for that long and can be frozen.



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