Delightfully delicate, fresh and vibrant, a well-made broth supports the main ingredients of vegetable soup with a taste that's barely perceptible. Vegetable broths give you a lot of elbow room when it comes to creativity, too. Despite the complex tastes you can create by layering flavor upon flavor from vegetables both hearty and light, there's nothing complicated about making a broth. As long as you choose ingredients that flow with how you want the soup to taste, and keep the flavors balanced on the palate, you can't go wrong.
Roughly chop the mirepoix, which is always 2 parts onions to 1 part each carrots and celery, on a cutting board with a kitchen knife and add it to a heavy-bottomed pot. Mirepoix flavors and supports nearly every stock, broth, sauce, soup and stew. You can use as much mirepoix as you like, but follow a ratio of one cup of mirepoix per half cup of water.
Place the aromatic spices and herbs you want to flavor the stock with in a large square of cheesecloth and tie it together with a piece of kitchen twine to make a sachet bag. A sachet bag, or sachet d'epices, usually contains a few black peppercorns, thyme sprigs, parsley stems and a bay leaf, but you can add any whole spices you like.
Add equal amounts of any other vegetables you want to flavor the broth with to the pot. Parsnips, leeks, mushrooms, fennel and tomato all have a place in vegetable broth.
Add a half cup of cold water per cup of mirepoix, and place the pot on the stove over high heat. Heat the broth until it just starts to bubble around the edges and turn the heat down to medium-high. If you let the vegetable broth come to a rolling boil it gets cloudy.
Simmer the broth about thirty minutes, stirring occasionally with a spoon, and taste. You can simmer and concentrate the broth as long as you like, but vegetables start to break down after about thirty to forty minutes and cloud the stock.
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