I think it's time to talk about one of the most underrated stars of vegan cuisine. Vegetable broth. Let's face it, it's basically free if you use all the veggie parts you would otherwise discard.
If you have access to a farmer's market, you'll probably be carting home vegetables with even more extras. Carrots with the green tops, celery with lots of leaves, broccoli and cauliflower with leaves and stalks, leeks with big roots and huge fanning tops, greens with tough stalks, mushroom stems, corn husks, and cobs, and that doesn't even cover the peelings and skins of root vegetables, squash, onions, garlic and potatoes.
Just wash the undesirable trimmings, leaves, stems, and put in a big pot, cover with water bring to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour. I usually add bay leaves, peppercorns, and a good size hunk of kombu (japanese seaweed.) The kombu adds a salty dimension that makes it taste good plain without adding extra salt. Most likely you'll add salt to whatever final product you're making with the broth, so you don't want to salt it here. Just drain and when the veggie parts cool, you can squeeze the remaining broth out of them.
If you're trying to shed a few pounds, a cup of broth before a meal is a good way to fill up on zero calories and help feel satisfied if you have smaller portions of the main meal.
Also vegetable broth is a key component in the popular cleansing juice diets. Even if you're not into the whole diet part of it, sometimes it's good to give your digestion a rest for even part of the day. It's also nice on a rainy day or when nursing a cold/flu or hangover.
Todays mixture includes the carrot greens, tops, and peelings; broccoli and cauliflour stems and leaves; some leftover chopped red onion; some basil leaves that fell out of the bunch; leaves from the celery (word of caution, too much celery can be overpowering, 1-2 stalks is usually good;) stems from some collard greens; the papery skins from some garlic, 3 bayleaves, 3 peppercorns and a 3 inch piece of kombu. Brothy goodness.
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