Homemade Bouillon - and your weeknight dinner made simpler

Oh...the joy of a deleted post.  Let's try this again!

I discovered something this weekend that made me very happy:  Homemade Bouillon.   It is simple, easy, and so much better than the canned stuff - which I dislike - or the homemade vegetable broth I had relied on up to this point.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Rye Crackers and Tete de Moine cheese
Why do I care about Homemade Bouillon so much?  I love to make soups and stews and risottos, and other dishes that start with a broth of some sort.  When I get home from work on a week night, the last thing I want is a dried up bouillon cube or a broth from a can or jar - generally full of preservatives and E-codes and dubious sounding ingredients.  My growling stomach is definitely not going to give me peace long enough to spend 90 minutes making homemade vegetable broth either.  I usually have chicken broth, because I make and freeze it by the 1/2 liter every time we have roast chicken (often!).  But sometimes I want a purely vegetarian dish, or else the flavor of chicken doesn't suit what I'm making (hello beef stew!).  Homemade vegetable broth didn't have the round, full flavor I was looking for in a soup either, but was the best I had up until yesterday.

Enter 101 Cookbooks and the recipe for Homemade Bouillon.  The blog author Heidi listed the ingredients by weight, but I knew I wasn't going to be happy doing that.  I am willing to weigh ingredients for jam and baking, but not for this.  But, she also assured her dear reader that the Homemade Bouillon is highly adaptable to what is in my fridge, and that one should experiment, so off I went.

One note:  the salt volume will seem extremely high in this.  Keep in mind that it is heavily diluted with water when you actually cook with it so there isn't that much salt in an individual batch of the finished vegetable broth.  You can make it without salt, but if you do so, freeze in ice cube trays or individually on a pan which you then put into the freezer, otherwise it will be extremely difficult to use.  If you do use salt, you'll find the bouillon doesn't freeze solid, so you can scoop it out of the freezer container when you are ready to use.

This is so easy to use and makes such a great base for cooking.  I just made this yesterday afternoon, and have already been inspired to make 2 soups.

Chopped and ready to use
Homemade Bouillon
adapted from and inspired by the 101 Cookbooks blog

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved and chopped into half moons
2 celery ribs, chopped (if there are leaves, add those too)
3 shallots, peeled and halved
4 garlic cloves, halved
4 sun dried tomatoes, preserved in oil
Rosemary leaves from two large rosemary sprigs
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
1/3 cup peeled, chopped turnip (nauris)
1/3 cup peeled, chopped celery root
4 Tablespoons olive oil (or oil from the sun dried tomato jar)
125 g sea salt (this is the only thing I weighed.  If you insist on not weighing it, it's approximately 3/4 cup)

Mix all ingredients except the olive oil and salt in a large bowl.  Working in batches, pour the vegetables into a food processor and chop until they form a fine, rough, paste.  Transfer vegetable paste into another large bowl and repeat until all vegetables are chopped into a paste.

To the vegetable paste, add the olive oil and the salt.  Stir well to combine.  

Reserve some paste to store in the refrigerator for immediate use - it will last about a week.  Store the rest in freezer containers and freeze to use as needed. 

To use:  Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a pot or pan.  Add 1 heaped Tablespoon of the Homemade Bouillon and fry until the vegetables are soft and fragrant.  Add 2 cups of cold water and heat to a simmer.  Your vegetable broth is ready to use!

Can you feel the sunshine?
Carrot Ginger Soup
you won't taste the potato in this soup, but you need it to create the thick smooth texture.

2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large potato or 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups vegetable broth, see above
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.

Put all ingredients into a suitable sized pot.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer until vegetables are fork tender, about 20 minutes.  Puree with an immersion blender or in a stand blender until smooth.  You may need to add water to thin soup and make it easier to blend. 

Serves two.

for Turnip Soup:
omit carrot and replace it with 1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled turnip.  Omit the ginger.  Proceed as directed.  Turnip soup has a sharp flavor that I love.  If you'd prefer it less sharp, add a teaspoon of creme fraiche or sour cream to each serving.  I also recommend topping it with a fresh grinding of black pepper

Turnip Soup with creme fraiche and fresh ground black pepper

Labels: ,