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Food Hacks

I Used Food Scraps To Make Vegan “Chicken” Broth (That Went Viral on TikTok) — Here’s What Happened

Food scrap broth: garbage or gourmet?

Good soup is good year-round, but a warm, fragrant broth bubbling away on the stovetop feels extra special in the fall. It’s why I’ve recently been on the lookout for new recipes. A TikTok recommendation that went viral last week piqued my interest. It’s a vegan “chicken” broth that works as a meat-free base with a variety of soups. The best part? It’s made with the food scraps you’d usually throw out, so it eliminates food waste and saves money. Read on to see my journey from scraps to soup, and to decide if you want to try it too. 

The Recipe

Carleigh Bodrug, founder of the plant-based recipe blog PlantYou, posted this recipe on her website and on TikTok as part of her “scrappy cooking” series, in which she repurposes the parts of vegetables we normally throw away and cooks them into healthy dishes.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 corn cobs, kernels removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 onion skin

(Note: Bodrug mentions that you can add peppercorns “for a sharper flavor,” so I tossed about one tablespoon in. Also, black pepper enhances the health benefits of turmeric.)

Directions: 

  1. Combine ingredients in large pot with 8-12 cups water.
  2. Bring to boil and simmer on low, 1 to 3 hours.
  3. Strain solids.
  4. Store in fridge 5 days or in freezer up to 3 months.

Watch her video here: 

@plantyou

Replying to @Iman Ak vegan chicken broth #soup #goodsoup #recipe #zerowaste #FlexEveryAngle

♬ Super Freaky Girl – Nicki Minaj

My Test

A common response when trying something new is, “It tastes like chicken.” So, when I saw a recipe that claimed to mimic one of the most versatile, recognizable flavors in the world with the stuff I’d usually banish to the garbage heap, I knew I had to try it for myself. Plus, I could certainly stand to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet. Eating less meat and more vegetables is linked to lower cancer, stroke, and heart disease risk, among several other benefits. Even if this broth didn’t taste like chicken, eating it would definitely benefit me. 

Apart from their nutrient-rich plant-based properties, this broth’s main ingredients do the body a lot of additional good. Corn supports gut health, and onion skins are just as healthy as the onions themselves. Some people even use the skins to make a nutritious tea.

The visuals of the broth, initially, made me dubious. My stockpot looked like the bowl I use to collect food scraps for easier cleanup after cooking, and adding water to it didn’t help (as evidenced below).

food scraps like onion skins and corn cobs in a stock pot with water
Scraps du jourAnna Jamerson

Nevertheless, I persisted. After bringing it to a boil and setting a timer for two hours, my kitchen was filled with the nostalgic aroma of homemade chicken broth. The scent wasn’t overly vegetal, like I’d expected: Instead, it smelled savory, rich, and for lack of a better term, meaty.

I set a timer to check on it every 30 minutes, and I did end up adding one extra cup of water — just enough to cover the solid ingredients — halfway through, since it was reducing more quickly than I’d expected.

When the two hours were up, I drained the solids and took a taste. It definitely smelled like chicken, and it appeared warm, aromatic, and rich (like classic chicken broth). However, the aftertaste was decidedly un-chicken-esque. Maybe I added too many peppercorns — but there was a slight vegetal bitterness that’s not present in meat-based broths. Was it tasty? Yes. Do I prefer it over the real deal? No. However, real chicken broth doesn’t help me get rid of food scraps like this one does, so there’s a vegan victory to be had! 

How to Use Vegan Chicken Broth

If you tried this recipe, congratulations: You now have a tasty, healthy foundation for a variety of soups. Sure, you can make vegan soup, but you can also use your broth for mashed potatoes, creamy vegetable risotto, or even vegetarian sloppy joe sandwiches. You can even add things like ginger, crushed red pepper, or lemongrass to bring out more flavors. Find more recipes in Bodrug’s cookbook, PlantYou (Buy from Amazon, $18.99).

All in all, I recommend trying this recipe. It’s easy, cost-effective, and the novelty of using up items ordinarily destined for the garbage is hard to beat. If you’re trying to cut down on your meat consumption or you’re just looking for a fun way to clear out the fridge, this may be the right recipe for you. And if you try it, let me know how it goes in the comments.

mason jar of broth with onion skins next to it
The finished productAnna Jamerson

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