Simmering up a large pot of beef or chicken stock is a relaxed process, because it takes hours to extract flavor from bones or a carcass. Vegetable broth, on the other hand, takes just 30 to 40 minutes. If you don't have your seasonings ready when you start, you'll have limited time to get them ready. Mixing your herbs and spices ahead of time speeds the process, or the mixture can even be treated as an instant broth in its own right.
Season a Broth
A handful of common flavorings work with most soups. Start with 1 part each of ground black pepper and oregano to 2 parts of thyme. Add garlic powder and onion powder in whichever proportions you favor, totalling roughly 6 times the amount of black pepper. Twelve parts each of celery salt and dried parsley flakes will provide a pleasant vegetable flavor. Summer savory is a less-common herb, but its aromatic, mildly peppery note works well in most vegetable soups. Use 4 to 6 parts savory per part of pepper. Add other herbs and spices, or vary these proportions, until you find a combination that suits your palate perfectly. Shake the mixture thoroughly, and store it in airtight packaging in your cupboard. When you're ready to make a broth, just add a teaspoon of flavoring for every cup or so of liquid.
If you're in a real hurry, you can use the same mixture as the base of an instant soup mixture. Simply add instant noodles, dehydrated vegetable flakes from the bulk food section, and dry miso powder -- if you wish -- for added flavor and body. For a hearty soup, combine your seasoning mixture with instant potato flakes or bean flour, which will thicken quickly into a sturdy lunch.
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