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Zero Waste Vegetable Broth

Written By Joseph Jackson 15 Jan 2020

As you cut down on plastic, refill household cleaning products rather than buy new bottles, and upcycle items rather than discard, extend that zero-waste initiative to your menu planning. 

Zero Waste Vegetable Broth

Add this zero-waste vegetable broth to your weekend cooking and you’ll have a base for delicious soups, nutritious sauces and extra portions to freeze for a homemade ready meal. 

Christine calls this nourishing vegetable stock ‘Righteous Broth’, because after you make it you feel absolutely righteous for not wasting a scrap!

This is less a ‘recipe’ as it is a ‘technique’: 

Throughout the week, save all scraps from vegetable prep – tops and tails of carrots, celery, onions, courgettes. Save peelings from parsnips and potatoes, ragged mushroom stems, tough kale stalks. Set aside cauliflower cores and woody broccoli bases. Keep a container in the fridge or the freezer, adding to it as you prepare each meal.* 

On Friday or Saturday evening, pop the contents of the container into a slow cooker, add water to cover, and set the dial on ‘low’ to cook slowly overnight. Alternatively, put the vegetables into a large saucepan, cover with water, and cook on the lowest setting on the hob for at least three hours, making sure the stock is at the barest simmer. We want to leech the nutrients from the vegetables as low and slow as possible. 

The next morning (or just before bed if you’re cooking on the hob): strain the stock, toss the scraps in the compost bin, and relish the rich, deep golden hue of your homemade, zero-waste vegetable broth! The scent will be unlike any stock cube you’ve ever bought, and the nutrient value leaves instant soups lagging far behind. 

Would you like some of our best recipes for your zero-waste broth? Do you have a favourite soup or stew recipe to share? Get in touch!

*Meat-eaters can add bones to this broth, but we advise storing the scraps container in the freezer until ready to use. 

WHAT TO MAKE WITH THE BROTH?

Here's Christine's recipe for Winter Stew With Dumplings...

A hearty meal chock full of veggies, topped with stick-to-your-ribs dumplings – this is cold weather fare!


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 carrots, diced

1 stick of celery, diced

100g mushrooms, chopped

100g red lentils, rinsed

100g pearl barley or pearl spelt, rinsed

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

2 litres zero-waste vegetable broth)

Salt and pepper

 

For the dumpling top:

180g plain flour (or all purpose gluten free flour)

½ tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

120 ml milk (or milk alternative)

1 ½ tablespoons butter (or butter alternative), melted

 

Finely chopped parsley (optional)

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil; when it is hot, add vegetables. Stir and cook for about five minutes or until the vegetables start to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the lentils and barley or spelt, stir, then pour over the broth and add the thyme. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, place a lid askew over the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes. 

 

After about 20 minutes, start making the dumplings: Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Warm the milk in the microwave for about a minute, stir in the melted butter, then pour over the dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until ingredients form a thick batter. 

 

Test the stew – when the barley is just cooked through, it’s time to add the dumpling top. Drop dough by the tablespoonful over the surface of the stew – you’ll have about 8-10 blobs of dough – then cover saucepan with a lid and leave to steam for 20 minutes over very low heat. 

 

When dumplings have cooked (they will be pale in colour and dense, but not gooey), remove the lid and spoon into deep bowls. Sprinkle with parsley if desired, then tuck in and warm up!