Spring Vegetable Broth / by Alexa Arnold

The earth is what we all have in common. 
– Wendell Berry

My favorite part about making broth is that there's no need for a recipe, it's blissfully imprecise, and it's a simple way to use scraps that would otherwise make their way to the compost pile. The flavor changes with the seasons; in the spring, carrot tops, onions and fennel play leading roles, while in late summer, corn and squash skins can be combined with sweet peppers. No two batches will be alike, so the broth will give the soup, rice, bean and sauce dishes you add it to a unique and flavorful twist, sans all of the icky additives found in store-bought stock. This batch filled my kitchen with a warm, full scent reminiscent of my grandmother's Thanksgiving gravy, which I credit to the sage and portobello. I'll be saving a couple of quarts to use with my favorite risotto recipe. 

Ingredients:
(Reference the list below, or use any combination of vegetable scraps, herbs and spices that you have on hand. As I cook throughout the week, I add my scraps to a big gallon bag and store in the freezer to save for making a big batch of broth in the future, but you can also pick up fresh vegetables from the market.)
> A handful of carrots, chopped in half, tops still on
> 2 medium onions, chopped in half, skins still on
> 4 stalks celery, chopped into medium-sized pieces
> 1 large portobello mushroom, sliced into medium-sized pieces
> 6 cloves garlic, skins still on
> 3 bay leaves
> 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
> 2 sprigs sage
> 4 sprigs thyme
> 1 tablespoon sea salt

Preparation:
1. Gather all of your vegetables and add them to a large soup pot or dutch oven. Fill the pot three-quarters of the way up with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to lower heat and simmer. Simmer for 2-3 hours, or longer for a deeper, fuller flavor, tasting as you cook. 
2. Place a colander in a large bowl and carefully pour in the contents of the soup pot. Discard your cooked vegetables and strain any scraps that made their way through the colander.  
3. Let cool, and then transfer the broth into storage containers for the fridge or freezer.