Unless you have an uncreative, uncurious mind, you know that “vegetarian” does not mean “bland.” Sure, bland vegetarian food exists, but have you ever had a baked, under-seasoned chicken breast? Meat doesn’t always equal flavor, particularly when we’re talking about broth.
Chicken broth is good and all, but you usually have to add a few aromatics and seasonings to make it great. With the exception of chickpea broth, these vegetarian broths don’t really need all that much help. Their primary ingredients are so flavorful, you really only need water, and maybe a little salt.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian broth that reads as “chicken-y,” this is the one for you. As A.A. Newton has explained previously, it’s golden and savory, but still neutral enough for use in almost any recipe:
You might think it’ll make everything taste like chickpeas, but you’d be wrong—if anything, it tastes surprisingly chicken-y. It’s got all the body you could want too, thanks to the starches in the chickpeas themselves. And with its gorgeous, golden hue, chickpea broth even looks just like good chicken stock. Have you ever bought a box of veggie stock that was murky brown or bright, carroty orange—and tasted like nothing at all? Chickpea broth would never do that to you.
Making chickpea broth is also quite easy:
Stocking up on chickpea broth before the big day is as easy as making a big ol’ pot of dried chickpeas. An overnight soak is completely optional, but if you choose to soak, cook the beans right in that soaking water for the richest possible broth. (The bean experts at Rancho Gordo stand by this technique, and so do I.) Season them however you like—the classic combo of carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and bay leaf is hard to beat…and add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil per cup of dried beans, then cook until tender…When your chickpeas are done, strain them and reserve every last drop of that sweet, sweet bean juice. Season the broth taste and store in the fridge for 2 weeks, or indefinitely in the freezer.
Saving parm rinds in the freezer for soups, sauces, and rissoto is a classic no-waste hack, but those cheesy ends can also be used to make a simple two-ingredient broth that is packed with savory glutamates. Like chickpea broth, it’s also not at all challenging to cook up:
All you need is about a cup of cheese rinds. Make sure they’re clean and rinsed off, then toss them into a pot. Cover them with about eight cups of water, and bring it to a boil. Simmer for an hour or two, and you’re done—cook longer to get the level of rich flavor you really want. They even note you can toss in some broth-friendly veggies too if you like, but you don’t have to. When you’re done, let it cool and store it in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for a few months. You can use your new cheese broth in place of chicken or vegetable broth just about anywhere, like in a soup recipe, when you’re making risotto or rice, in a pot of beans, to deglaze a pan, and more.
I’m a big fan of tossing garlic skins into my scrap broth bag, but this garlic broth recipe from Food52 ups the garlicky intensity by making a stock with two whole heads. All you have to do is peel and roughly chop the cloves, then cover with 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil, let simmer for about an hour, then strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing the mushy cloves to extract as much flavor as possible. Season with salt to taste and use as you would any stock or broth, or just sip it for a savory treat.