Using up the rest of the vegetables (“Restverwertung”) before you go shopping is a tradition in many households. But what should you do with slightly wilted carrots, celery and onions?

You could make a vegetable broth out of them if you have a half day at home. While you are puttering around the house, vacuuming or making bread, this broth can simmer on the stove, giving you a leg up on dinner for the coming week.

Makes about 2 quarts of vegetable broth.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts water (8 cups or about 2 liters)
  • 2 c. chopped vegetables, unpeeled (see below for selection)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion or leek
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 c. fresh parsley or 1 T. dried
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp. whole pepper, lightly crushed
  • 1-2 tsp. salt

Preparation:

Place everything but the salt in a 4 – 6 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 2 – 4 hours, or until vegetables are very soft.

Pour the broth through a sieve and discard the vegetables and seasonings.

Add salt to taste. Start with 1 teaspoon and taste. Reduce salt even further if other salty ingredients are being used together with the broth in the final dish (sausage, cheese or ham, for instance).

Cool broth and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

I like to start with carrots and celery, unpeeled but the ends cut off, and use the celery leaves, if any. Then a few leftover, fresh mushrooms or 1 tablespoon of dried mushrooms, fresh pepper pieces (even a jalapeno if you are making a spicy soup), garlic, fresh or dried chives and spices that will be in the final dish. For instance, 5 juniper berries, a teaspoon of mustard seed, a few cloves, etc.

Any medley of vegetables is acceptable. One thing to remember, though, is that strong-tasting vegetables will make the broth taste very strong. For instance, if you put 2 cups of cabbage in the water, the broth will be essentially cabbage broth, which might not taste as good as a mixture of cabbage, carrots and celery.

Freezing the broth is simple and practical. Try freezing it flat in 2 cup portions in freezer bags with zippers. They thaw quickly that way (as opposed to a block of broth frozen in a cottage cheese container) and you can even break some off and put the rest back in the freezer. Frozen flat, they stack well, too.