Beer, Wine, and Liquor

Published on August 4th, 2010 | by Jeannie Moulton


Eating Vegan: Vegan Soup Bases, Stocks and Broths

What makes a delicious broth?  If you would have asked me a few months ago, I would have told you vegetable bouillon cubes, but it’s really the taste of umami – the savory and satisfying flavor of food.  Sure, bouillon cubes are an easy way to add fullness to the soup, but they can be loaded with MSG.  The MSG mimics the natural taste found in meat and some savory vegetables, but its safety is debated.  Delicious, healthy broths can be made from fresh vegetables without needing any bouillon cubes or MSG.

Revolving around the concept of umami, here are three different vegan and MSG-free broths or stocks to try:

Tomato and Soy Broth

Ripe tomatoes are loaded with glutamate – the amino acid that gives food a full and satisfying taste. The soy sauce adds an interesting twist.  This is a good base for minestrone or chili.


  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine (optional, add 1/2 cup water if omitted)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Olive oil

Roast the grape tomatoes in the oven at 350 with some olive oil and pepper until they just start to burst.  Meanwhile, saute the onions, carrots and garlic in a bit of olive oil until they become aromatic.  Smash the tomatoes and combine with sauteed vegetables and the remaining ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer until carrots are soft.  Salt to taste.

Chardonnay and Mushroom Broth

Mushrooms are unbeatable for umami and fullness.  Good for hearty soups and flavoring other dishes.


  • 2/3 cup diced chestnut mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Olive oil

Saute the onions, carrots and garlic in a little olive oil until they become aromatic.  Combine the sauteed vegetables with all of the other ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until carrots are soft.  Salt to taste.

Green Tea and Sesame Broth

Green tea makes a good soup base because it also has lot of glutamate.  It is an interesting and light tasting broth, perfect for drizzling over grilled food.

  • 1/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 green onions, coarsely chopped, green reserved
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Green tea bag
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Ground ginger
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Saute the onions, white parts of green onions, carrots, celery and garlic in some olive oil until they become aromatic.  Combine the sauteed vegetables with the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and let simmer until carrots and celery are soft.  Bring to rapid boil once again, remove from heat and add the green tea bag and green onion greens.  Let the tea bag steep for 3-5 minutes and remove.  Add soy sauce and a dash of toasted sesame oil and ground ginger.  Salt to taste.  Do not reboil after adding the tea bag.

Use as stocks

These can be used as stocks if you reduce the liquid a little bit and strain after cooking.  The Chardonnay and Mushroom stock is perfect for making vegan mashed potatoes.

These are just bases…you make the dish.

You have the base, now add any vegetables, noodles, rice or spices that you want.  If you are adventurous, try making some other broths from glutamate-rich foods like seaweed, potatoes or soy beans.  Let us know what you create!

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by mrsdewinter

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About the Author

I spent the last five years earning my PhD in Engineering. I enjoy all types of science and writing, so I am trying out a new career path in science publication and communication. Recently, I have moved to Oxford, England. As an environmentally-conscious person, Oxford is a great place to live...notably there is no car required. I love to talk about vegan cooking, plant-based diets and the benefits of such, so just ask if you are interested. I do ballet for fun and love kitties.

One Response to Eating Vegan: Vegan Soup Bases, Stocks and Broths

  1. Pingback: Rethinking Potatoes – Eat Drink Better

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