One of the most underrated and perhaps even ignored ingredients in making great soups and stews is the broth. Vegetable broth has an advantage over most other broth options as the vegetable flavour blends well with meat such as chicken, beef and pork while also working well in vegetable recipes and of course being friendly to vegetarians and vegans. Vegetable broth is used to add liquidity and some flavour to recipes. So what to do when you can’t find vegetable stock in the store or perhaps you’re at home and don’t have vegetable stock but are not interested in leaving the house?
What Is Vegetable Broth?
Broth is a savoury liquid that consists primarily of water. To the water you can have anything added from bones, meat, vegetables and herbs and cooked at just below boiling temperature to simmer the ingredients. Broth is most commonly used in the preparation of other dishes such as soups, gravies, stews and sauces. Vegetable broth contains only vegetables. If you are vegetarian or vegan you will have to closely check the label as vegetable broth may contain traces of animal elements. Sometimes you may come across broth under the name bouillon. Vegetable broth like other broths can be consumed as is though that is not its traditional purpose. So what options do you have as substitutes for vegetable broth and when is it appropriate to use them?
You will find these under different names depending on where you are from. Bouillon cubes, stock cubes or any other name you may find them under these make a great substitute for vegetable broth. These cubes contain dehydrated broth of vegetable, chicken, beef, fish and many other items. They are widely available so you really shouldn’t have any problem finding these. They also have the advantages of being cheaper than liquid broth and they are much easier to store than liquid broth or stock. You may find varieties that have added herbs or spices to enhance the flavour. Bouillon cubes also come in a wide variety of flavours including but not limited to chicken, beef, mutton and fish. That makes them a versatile vegetable broth substitute and viable for many different recipes. You may also be able to find bouillon in granular form. If you’re using the cubes all you will need to do is add a vegetable bouillon cube to a cup of hot water and stir. Within minutes you will have a cup of vegetable stock.
Chicken Or Beef Broth
If your problem is simply that you cannot find vegetable stock and just need something to work with you can use chicken or beef stock. Not suitable if you are vegetarian or vegan but if that isn’t a problem these options work. The broth is not strongly flavoured so the presence of beef or chicken flavour should not be a problem in terms of taste. If you are worried about this it may be best to use chicken broth which blends well with other flavours where beef may overpower other flavours. Using a meat flavoured broth is the best like for like swap that you can hope for when substituting vegetable broth. The other upside of using chicken or beef broth is the rate of substitution is one for one so there are no complex calculations involved in the substitution process. This will not work well if you are vegetarian or vegan as these broths are made with bones from the animals and will certainly violate your dietary code.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat just as there is more than one way to substitute vegetable broth. If you have a well-stocked pantry which hosts many commonly used herbs and spices you can make your vegetable broth substitute. If you have any of parsley, onion powder, celery seeds, garlic powder, sage, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil, pepper, dill and lemon pepper you can give this substitute a try. You will need equal measures of each, about one-eighth of a teaspoon to make one cup of this homemade broth. If you have a favourite amongst these feel free to add a little bit extra of it as it will give your food the added kick of your favourite flavour. You could also experiment with other things not mentioned on the list but you will need to be mindful of the flavour of what you want to experiment with and its overall effect on the complete recipe. Add your mix to one cup of boiling water and stir thoroughly. Just like that, you have a homemade broth substitute packed full of flavours of herbs and spices.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise but broth is mostly water. So it’s fathomable that you can easily substitute vegetable broth with water. A lot will depend on the reasons you want to substitute vegetable stock in the recipe but if you are avoiding the taste this is the recommended substitute. If it is about dietary or nutritional requirements such as low sodium then water is the way to go. This is the advantage that water has over the other substitutes on this list. You will find that water is the easiest substitute especially if you only discover you don’t have enough or are short on vegetable broth right in the middle of the cooking process. Water also involves little or no preparation or expense on your end so you can see it’s shaping up as the best substitute for vegetable broth.
The best vegetable broth substitute will depend largely on the reason for substituting although water is almost always the best substitute. The homemade option works if you have a well-stocked pantry while bouillon cubes or other flavoured broth can work too.