Slow-Cooker All-Purpose Vegetable Broth
Why This Recipe Works
Vegetable broth is essential to full-flavored vegetarian cooking, enhancing meat-free dishes with clean vegetal flavor. It needs gentle cooking, and the slow cooker is the perfect medium in which to bring out the subtlety of many types of vegetables. We knew that in order to create a balanced, intensely flavored broth we needed a precise mix of ingredients. First, we found that a base of onions, scallions, carrots, and celery along with a generous dose of garlic provided a strong background to the broth that was neither too vegetal nor too sweet. The addition of half a head of cauliflower, cut into florets and added with the water, gave our broth pleasant earthiness and nuttiness. Finally, a single tomato added acidic balance, and thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns rounded out the flavors. To cook our broth, we initially wanted to be able to dump all the vegetables into the cooker raw, but we found that we needed the additional flavor developed from browning the aromatics. We chose a longer cooking time than our meat-based broths so that the flavor of all the different vegetables could shine through. To prevent the broth from looking cloudy, do not press on the solids when straining.