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Wintry Nights

Sunday nights are usually pretty low-key. I tend to cook or order in and listen to WNYC or catch up on TV shows from the week. Today I had a strong craving for soup, probably due to the chilly temps and snow on the way. However, making a full pot of soup isn't ideal when you live alone because even with freezing it's easy to get sick of it. I happened to have a few veggies in the fridge that were close to being unusable so decided to make a broth that I could turn into different one-serving soups throughout the week. I'll start here with the broth, then in an upcoming post share the single-serve soups I whipped up!

Sunday Veggie Broth

The best part about a broth is you can throw anything you like in to create the flavor you want or use up ingredients you have on hand. Raid your fridge and cupboards and don't be scared to try something!

My Ingredients 

  • Half onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • Carrot greens
  • 1-2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Cardamom
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Kalamata olive brine
  • 5-6 cups water
 Hapless veggies, on the verge of compost

Hapless veggies, on the verge of compost

First things first, get those veggies washed and cut up. A rough chop is fine and you can leave the carrot greens (or any fesh herbs you may add) whole. I didn't peel the carrots and I chopped through the whole celery stalk at once. So easy!

 Clockwise from top left: Carrot greens, garlic, celery, carrot, onion. 

Clockwise from top left: Carrot greens, garlic, celery, carrot, onion. 

Now, let's get cooking. Melt the butter in a medium/large pot over medium/low heat. As soon as the butter is melted add the onion and garlic and stir to coat with butter. Turn the heat down if the garlic is cooking too quickly. Add your spices (whatever you desire)! I opted for salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and cardamom. A heavy hand is okay here, remember you'll be adding a good amount of water which will dilute the spice significantly. Stir frequently and cook until onions are soft and garlic is just starting to brown. Add a splash of vinegar to deglaze the pot.

   Clockwise from top left: Melting butter, seasonings, ready for vinegar, deglazed. 

 Clockwise from top left: Melting butter, seasonings, ready for vinegar, deglazed. 

Add the carrots and celery, stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium, stirring occasionally. You want to sweat the veggies down to soften without browning, probably ~5 minutes. Once the veggies are soft, stir in the carrot greens. Add 5-6 cups cold water (don't overfill the pot), and 1/4 - 1/2 cup of olive brine. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until halved in volume, ~1 - 1 1/12 hours.

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So, while that's going.... 

What is cardamom? 

Cardamom is a plant in the ginger family, native to India and surrounding countries. Aromatic and minty, cardamom has an intense distinct flavor. It is often found in Indian dishes, chai tea and sometimes added to coffee grounds before brewing to enhance the flavor.

I've used green cardamom, purchased from my local grocer. You break the pods open and can add the seeds to a dish whole or grind them using a mortar and pestle.

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Okay, now back to the broth. Once it has reduced and tastes to your liking, you can either strain & discard the veggies or use your immersion blender to incorporate the veggies into a hearty thick broth. 

I opted to strain my broth, careful to press all the juices out of the veggies. These can be set aside to cool for composting. You may store your broth now, or make any soup you'd like. Vegetable broth is great because you can use it to create vegan and carnivore friendly soups depending on your audience. 

 Clockwise from top: Brothy goodness, just starting to strain, pressed veggies. 

Clockwise from top: Brothy goodness, just starting to strain, pressed veggies. 

Broth is great to have on hand - not just for quick homemade soups but also to make heartier rice, steamed veggies and even as a hot beverage on a cold night. Add a little vinegar to a mug of plain broth just after heating to punch up the flavor for a wintry treat! 

Here's hoping for an early Spring.

xo, 

Lo