You are craving something warm and comforting but you’ve used up your last box of broth or have no defrosted, homemade stock supply. The idea of going outside into the cold makes you very, very sad so what do you do?
Here is your cheat sheet of broth substitutes that can stay in the pantry or refrigerator for up to a year, are 100% natural, and are even nutritious:
- Pickle juice: Do not throw away the remains of your pickle jar once you’ve finished your fermented vegetables! This rich liquid typically contains spices, salt, and luscious juices from the vegetables, i.e. things that you would find in a vegetable broth! The differences of course are that it also contains a lot of acid that is either produced from the natural fermentation process or added in the form of vinegar. (For what it’s worth, my favorite to use is kimchi, or, spicy Korean fermented vegetables.) Pickle juice tends to be quite salty so for every cup of broth that you would typically use, use 1/3 to ½ cup of pickle juice and fill the rest with water. The amount you use depends on how potent the pickle juice is so try a taste first to see how potent the flavors, acids, and salt are. If you pucker your lips or feel the need to exclaim, “Whoa!” use less. You can always add more. If you decide to add more juice later in the cooking process, make sure to bring the soup to a boil and let it roll for a few minutes before serving. This will mellow out the strong acidic taste. Note as well that vinegar and other very strong acids can toughen some ingredients such as beans or meat unless they are cooked together for a very long time. Best use: soups with vegetable, noodles or grains.
- Miso: Miso is a fermented paste used in various Asian cuisines. In the US, miso can be found in refrigerated jars or in powder form. Miso is most often made from soybeans but some are made with chickpeas, barley and/or brown rice, among other things. Miso that has been fermented for at least 6 months can be rich in antioxidants and as a fermented product it contains good bacteria as well as a form of Vitamin K that has been shown to strengthen bones. I highly recommend using the refrigerated kind over the powder if you want to benefit from its nutrients. Although not a hard and fast rule, generally the darker the miso, the longer it has been fermented and the more nutrients it contains. The lighter the miso, the sweeter it tends to be. Miso is naturally salty so you can reduce or omit altogether additional salt. Miso can last in the refrigerator for up to one year without issue but be sure to check the sell-by date.  Note that it maintains its nutrients only if it is not heated so if this is important to you, remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of miso for every cup of water.  Best use: soups with beans, tofu, meat, fish, chicken, pork, vegetables, noodles or grains
- Dashi: Dashi is a Japanese product made from dehydrated seaweed (kombu) and dehydrated fish flakes (bonito). Dashi may sound more like fish food than human food but this product is the cornerstone of a lot of Asian cooking, such as most Japanese soups, sauces and Vietnamese pho. The flavor is complex but light and smoky while also ocean-y without being fishy (if you make it correctly). Dashi makes an amazing base for your favorite noodle or vegetable soup. It requires a few more steps than the other options in this list but the ingredients can keep in a dry pantry or refrigerator in tightly sealed containers for up to a year. Here is a pretty decent overview and recipe.  Best use: soups with tofu, fish, meat, vegetables, noodles or grains
Disclaimer: The photo above meant to be humorous and is not intended to role model or advocate that you put a bowl on anyone’s head, especially a bowl containing hot soup. That can be dangerous.