Do you remember those nasty little, foil-wrapped bouillon cubes that our grandmother's used to rely on? Were they really chicken? Nope. Mostly salt. And, whatever animal parts weren't worth sending to the meat counter. Many of us grew up thinking that chicken broth always tasted that salty. In fact, before I became a Whole-food vegan, many years ago, I quit ordering restaurant chicken soups because I couldn't take the saltiness.
Most people have probably figured out that we need to cut down the sodium in our diets - especially if you have hypertension (aka high blood pressure). But, here's something I didn't know - too much salt in foods can interfere with getting a good night's sleep according the the Cleveland Clinic. Wow! Considering how much salt is in so many mass market and processed foods, it's probably not surprising that Americans are buying so many over-the-counter 'sleep aids'.
Unfortunately, food manufacturers figured out decades ago that salt, along with sugar and fat, are very cheap ingredients. Food scientists are very adept at making unhealthy products not just appealing but addictive. If you'd like to read more about this, consider Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Michael Moss' book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the food giants hooked us. There's an updated version: Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions. I read this a decade ago, and that's when I started my journey toward demanding healthier food.
Along the way, I discovered the Better Than Bouillon concentrates. They're really quite good, but again, filled with salt ... and oil. I'd rather not, thanks. I still have them in my pantry, but they're a 'fall back' now that I've learned to make my own.
The ingredients for my DIY version of chikin bouillon are things that I already have in my pantry :
Nutritional Yeast - Gotta have it for vegan 'cheese' sauce, my own DIY low-sodium popcorn seasoning, vegan 'parmesan' sprinkles (with ground almonds) and many other plant-based recipes. Having gone mainstream in recent years, nutrient rich 'Nooch' is very good for you, providing all the essential amino acids which make it a 'complete protein'. Researchers are looking at nutritional yeast's fiber - beta glucan - which may reduce cholesterol and stimulate the immune system. So, you've gotta know that I'd find more ways to use it such as in my Vegan Seitan Lentil Steaks.
It's Delish Dehydrated Vegetable Soup Mix - Gotta have this too for the popcorn seasoning, tossing into the Instant Pot with grains (for additional visual interest and nutrition) or soups. I buy a one pound bag and it lasts for months in the pantry. You can also freeze it.
This DIY bouillon powder is very 'tweakable'. Make it your own. If you're a garlic hound, add more garlic powder. You get the idea. But, remember that you can always add 'more' of something to the pot ... I was intentionally cautious on the amount of salt in the basic powder. It might not be as 'salty' as you prefer things. That's an easy fix - add more salt to the pot.
Once you get the basics assembled and measured out, it's just a simple matter of putting them into a high-speed blender and processing until a fine powder is the result.
I lick the tip of my finger and 'taste' the powder. This is where you can make adjustments although I don't think you'll really need to.
You can use a food processor, of course. I recommend 'grinding' the dehydrated vegetable mix first, then adding all the remaining ingredients.
If this is your first rodeo, then when you've got the fine powder made, stir a teaspoon or two into a cup of really hot water. Stir. Taste. I was frankly amazed at how good this 'broth' was just on it's own. After I got finished photographing the liquid broth, I poured it into a glass and happily sipped on it until it was gone!
You'll want to put the powder into a tightly sealed glass jar. I store it in a cool, dark cupboard, but you can also store it in the fridge or freezer.
One to two teaspoons of the powder will flavor approximately one cup of water. For one quart of broth use 1-1/2 tablespoons (or 5 teaspoons). The ratio of powder to water will depend on how strong you want the resulting broth to be. A splash of white wine or just a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice will give you a very nice version of the French classic Court Bouillon for poaching vegetables.
You'll see that I recommend using a purchased Bouquet Garni herb blend. Make your own, if you don't have that on the shelf as I always do. It's basically: savory, rosemary, thyme, Turkish oregano, basil, dill weed, marjoram, sage and tarragon. If you don't have all those herbs, at the very least include: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil. I think ground sage - included in many pre-mixed Poultry Seasoning blends - is essential, and I added that as a separate ingredient. The Turmeric is there for yellow-ish color that we associate with chicken broth.
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