Sometimes you don’t want a soup that eats like a meal. The Campbell’s company knows this, or they would’ve discontinued all their non-chunky soups long ago. Sometimes, all you want is a clear, flavorful broth, either to warm you up without filling you up, or to add taste to a dish you’re cooking.
Of course, you can get this by making your own meat or poultry stock — but while that’s easy, it takes time and leaves you with fat to skim off and a lot of boiled bones and meat scraps to dispose of. Even homemade vegetable stock is somewhat messy, leaving you with loads of cooked-to-death onions, celery, and carrots. I mean, I appreciate the city’s green waste program, but it’s still a pain getting stuff ready for it. Anyway, my homemade vegetable stock always seems to come out a little too sweet. Instant soups are at least neat, and they’ve got umami — they should, with all that MSG.
I set out to make my own not-at-all-sweet vegetable broth with the saltiest, most umami-laden ingredients I could think of — and it was surprisingly easy. This recipe gives you an almost instant vegetable broth made from scratch, with no mess to clean up (well, a tiny bit of boiled greens, which you can eat or save for something else). It’s just as packed with flavor as instant vegetable broth. And no wonder — the first commercial MSG was derived from seaweed broth.
Seaweed broth is common in Asia, but I don’t make any claims for this being authentic. For one thing, it’s made from roasted seaweed, the kind used for sushi and sold in tiny packages as a snack food. That’s what I found at the nearest store, and what you’re most likely to find at yours, here in the Western countries.
You might want to make up a batch of this and freeze it in small quantities. Then it’ll be just as handy as instant.
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup chopped roasted seaweed (nori)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Combine water and seaweed in a small pot.
- Bring to a boil.
- Turn down and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add soy sauce.
- Try leaving the seaweed in, especially if you’re just going to be eating this. It’s easier, anyway.
- The broth may be an unappetizing green color till you add the soy sauce, but that fixes both the color and the taste.