Thursday, February 21, 2008


Best Blog Tips

Instant broth powders, pastes, and cubes seem to be very regional. Many of my subscribers and readers use brands that I have never heard of, or cannot get here in my area of Canada.

I have tried every vegetarian broth cube, powder and paste that I can find in my area-- without prejudice. By that I mean natural, not-so-natural, organic, not organic, etc...Broth powder has been problematic for me. The product you use should contribute full flavor, not just saltiness. Unfortunately, many vegetarian broth powders do not deliver in the flavor department! And, sadly, the major organic brands are inadequate--too salty and not enough real flavor.  I really like Seitenbacher vegetarian broth powder, a German Brand which is widely distributed in the USA. (See more info below.)

Brands of instant vegetarian broth, or bouillon, powders, pastes, and cubes seem to vary from region to region, even within North America. Many readers use brands that I have never heard of, or cannot get where I live in Western Canada. Fortunately, we can now order specific brands online if we can't convince our local grocer or health food store to carry the ones we like.


#1 Seitenbacher Vegetarian Vegetable Broth and Seasoning Powder, a German brand which is widely distributed in the USA and in Europe. It is the #1 choice for the recipes in this book. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find it in Canada, but Canadians can order it from veganessentials and the shipping to Canada is very reasonable. 

Seitenbacher is MSG-free and "All natural; Vegan; No Gelatine; No Dairy; No Meat; No Eggs; No Artificial Flavor Enhancer; Fat Free; Cholesterol Free; Gluten Free; No Oil". (Another good MSG-free broth powder is Massel-- see below.)

#2: One of my favorite broth products--but not a powder: "Better than Bouillon" "No Chicken Vegan Base" (a paste) is delicious (and it's what I used in the soup above).  Ask your health food store or grocery store to carry it. "Better than Bouillon" also has a "No Beef Vegan Base", which is good, and a "Vegetable Base", which also comes in an organic variety, but, while it's good, I wasn't super-impressed with the Vegetable Base. (Unfortunately, their "Mushroom Base" contains dairy products.)

#3: "Massel Vegetable Style Stock Powder", all vegan, MSG-free, palm oil-free and gluten-free, now available in the US and Canada from, and also from and many kosher outlets. There is Vegetable-Style, Chicken-Style and Beef-Style, all vegan.  Massel broth powder contains no trans-fats, and has good flavor, without too much salt.

TIP: Broth cubes almost always contain palm oil.

#4: An excellent homemade alternative is my own broth powder mix. It's easy and cheap to make and has excellent flavor--but you must use 2 teaspoons for each cup of water. SEE RECIPE BELOW.

For 1 cup of broth , use 1 cup water and add: 
* 1 teaspoon Seitenbacher or Massel vegetarian broth/stock powder
* OR 1 teaspoon Superior Touch "Better than Bouillon" Vegan No-Chicken Base
* OR 2 teaspoons Bryanna's Homemade Broth Powder (see recipe below ) 

Here's my homemade broth powder:

Printable Recipe

Yield: 1 1/4 cups or 30 cups of broth
I invented this broth powder when I was having trouble finding a natural broth powder here in Canada that actually tasted good! It's cheap and easy to make and has excellent flavor. You need to use twice as much of this homemade broth powder as Seitenbacher, but the sodium comes out about the same.

You can adjust the salt to suit your taste and dietary needs, but I wouldn't go lower than 1 Tablespoon.

1 1/3 cups nutritional yeast flakes
3 Tbs onion powder
7 1/2 tsp (2 1/2 Tbs) fine sea salt
1 Tbs soy protein powder (OR rice protein powder, or chickpea flour, or soy milk powder)
1 Tbs organic unbleached granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. garlic granules or powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp finely crumbled dried sage (NOT powdered)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric

Blend in a dry blender or food processor until powdery. Store in a dry, airtight container .

Use 2 level teaspoons per cup of boiling water.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 tsp. serving):
28.4 calories; 10% calories from fat; 0.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 475.3mg sodium; 163.9mg potassium; 3.6g carbohydrates; 2.0g fiber; 0.7g sugar; 1.6g net carbs; 4.1g protein; 0.2 points.

The next thing I want to share is something I posted in my newsletter, The Vegan Feast, a few years ago, but I wanted to try a fat-free version. It a big-batch, slow-cooker version of caramelized onions, which are so useful for making many dishes tasty (lots of umami!) It worked, but I think it was tastier with some olive oil. I also think, without the oil, you should use a sweet onion.

CAUTION: This gets pretty odiforous while it's cooking, so I plugged the slow-cooker in (overnight) on my front porch!

Printable Recipe


I must confess that, although I love caramelized onions (and they are a component of one of my favorite soups, onion soup), I didn't make them that often because of the time required stirring them so that they don’t burn! Well, here’s an easy, effortless way to make them, and you can make a whole lot of them if you have a large slow-cooker, and freeze small containers of it!

Though many recipes say to use sweet onions, Vidalia onions, etc., I just used plain ol’ yellow onions with the oil version and they turned very sweet! However, as I mentioned above, I think the fat-free version would be better with a sweet onion.

I used a 6 qt. oval Rival “SmartPot” Crockpot (this is the newer version). Peel and slice 6 large onions. Slice about 1/4” thick. To keep your pot clean, line the bottom (with some about 2” up the sides, particularly in the corners) with cooking parchment, cut into an oval shape.

THE OIL VERSION: Lay the onion slices on top and then drizzle with 2-3 Tbs. olive oil. Cover the pot and cook on LOW for 8 hours (I did this overnight).

THE FAT-FREE VERSION: Mix the onion slices with 1-2 Tbs. brown sugar. Place them on the parchment. Cover the pot and cook on LOW for 8 hours (I did this overnight).

Either way, they keep (in zip-lock bags)in the fridge for about a week, or freeze them if you don’t use them up.

Now here is a vegan onion soup that you can make quickly if you have a batch of slow-cooker caramelized onions in your fridge or freezer. You can make it fat-free or not, as you like!

Printable Recipe (includes Slow-Cooker Caramelized Onion recipe)

Serves 6

Yes, you can make an excellent onion soup without beef stock. This recipe, spiked with wine, is very easy to make and makes an excellent light supper. This is actually a Northern Italian version of French Onion Soup, adapted from a recipe in my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen".

8 c. hot water
1 batch Slow-Cooker Caramelized Onions (with or without oil; see above)
enough good vegetarian bouillon powder or cubes for 6 cups broth (see text at beginning of post)
4 tsp. Marmite yeast extract
2-3 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. Marsala (or dry sherry, Madeira or Sauterne)
freshly-ground white pepper to taste
To Serve:
6 thick slices rustic Italian or French-style bread, toasted
(or a good light wholegrain bread, which is what I used this time)
Galaxy Vegan Parmesan substitute (you could also add some shredded white vegan cheeze that melts, if you like)

In a large heavy pot, mix the onion, the water, bouillon, Marmite, soy sauce, and salt. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the wine and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add the white pepper to taste.

Toast as many pieces of bread as you need (cut rather thick). Spread with a bit of Earth Balance and sprinkle liberally with soy Parmesan (and other vegan cheeze, if you like). Place a piece of the toast (cut decoratively, if you like) in each serving of soup.

Serve piping hot.



megan said...

I can't wait to try your veggie broth powder! I like the brand that I buy here, but it is really expensive. I have a feeling that this one will end up being substantially cheaper and will probably taste better, too. Thanks!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

goodness, your onion soup looks so delicious! and i love how you caramelized the onions in the slow cooker. thanks for the tip to put it out on the porch - that would've never occurred to me!

zlamushka said...


I cannot believe you make your own bouillon. I am amazed. This is a must-try!

MeloMeals said...

I am going to make your broth powder...I am sick of buying bouillon cubes. My fav has msg in it.. so this will be much better.

Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! said...

this is so exciting to me! i have yet to meet a broth paste or powder that I find truly palatable. i always think that they're too overpowering.

can't wait to try this one. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I cannot seem to find a veggie broth powder that I like, and I have wasted so much money trying the various options. I cannot wait to try yours--your recipes are always amazing!


julie hasson said...

I'm so glad that you posted your broth powder Bryanna. It's one of my absolute favorites! I don't actually love the flavor of Bill's Best in soups and such, but it seems to work well in seitan. I could eat your broth powder with a spoon.

I can't wait to make your onion soup. It looks yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

Speedwell said...

Bryanna, McKay's vegetarian soup seasonings are said to be particularly good and available in Canada; here is a website for them:

Massel vegan chicken bouillon is the hands-down best of any I've ever tried. But it's impossible to find online, and believe me, I tried. I bought out my local grocery store when they had it in one year for Passover, and then the store promptly discontinued it and I've been bereft for a couple years. We liked Manischewitz vegan chicken broth powder, but again as soon as we started adapting to it, we couldn't find it anymore. We can readily obtain Golden Harvest brand from the local Chinese grocery, so we might start using that.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Thaznks, speedwell-- I have never seen Mckay's here, but I'll look for it!

If you can get McCormick's veggie cubes, it's actually Massel, just packaged for Canada! But I haven't seen their broth powder here.

The Chinese Harvest brand is VERY salty, I find. Not that I mind some salt, but I don't want that to be the main flavor.

Speedwell said...

The Chinese Harvest brand is VERY salty, I find. Not that I mind some salt, but I don't want that to be the main flavor.

That's because Chinese chicken broths are very light compared to what we Westerners are used to. If you add just enough of the powder to get the correct salt balance, you should get the same amount of chickeny flavor that Chinese cooks have in mind. You can always add a dab of nutritional yeast, a little extra thyme/sage/pepper, a pinchlet of natural sugar, and a few celery leaves and onion chunks to intensify the taste. (Or use those items by themselves and forget I mentioned the chicken broth powder....)

Also note that if you add a spoonful of the caramelized onions, you can get a rich flavor that mimics turkey. With some cornstarch, makes a good gravy for holiday roast.

Fake meat is my kitchen hobby, lol. I like your powdered seasoning--MUST try it SOON.

Anonymous said...

Bryanna, I'm really excited to try your onion soup. I make carmelized onions every week, usually 4 onions worth, for topping mujadarah. Can you recommend a sub for marmite for making the onion soup? I've tried marmite and the flavor made me gag.

Speedwell said...

acecile: Try mushroom soy sauce. It's a thick, black soy sauce made with actual mushrooms. Paired with a little onion, it tastes exactly like beefiness. If you have an Oriental grocery, they will have it there. You can also find it all over the place online. It only takes a little and one bottle lasts a VERY long time.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

acecile...Marmite makes me gag, too, if I try to eat it like the English do-- on toast-- or to taste it alone. But, used judiciously in a broth or sauce or stew, usually, in combination with some soy sauce, it's the "beefiest" taste going.

Gnewvegan said...

I love carmelized onions and do make them occasionally. It does take some time but it is well worth it.. I also use yellow onions if something calls for white or even sweet.. In a food show they taste tested white and yellow onions and found basically not enough difference in taste to not use a yellow in a recipe that calls for white.

wendy said...

Oh, your broth powder is going to save me a lot of $...thanks so much!

I can just imagine what your neighbors (human and animal) thought when they smelled your

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Wendy, fortunately, we live in the country and well away from our nearest neighbors! What the cats, deer, and raccoons thought, I don't know!

Six Bittersweets said...

Hi Bryanna, your blogs and books are wonderful! Recently, I've been discovering that I can make a lot of ingredients at home, so I was quite excited to come across this recipe. Unfortunately, I don't have soy powder. Is there a good substitute for it in this recipe? Thanks!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I think the soy protein is just an emulsifier of sorts. I have used soymilk powder before, instead of soy protein powder.

Anonymous said...

thanks, bryanna and speedwell! I will brave marmite one more time for the sake of onion soup and I'll be on the lookout for the mushroom soy sauce, which sounds really good by itself anyway.

Anonymous said...

I am addicted to Superior Touch No Chicken Base, it has the most wonderful flavor. But I often wonder if the Natural flavors & the autolyzed yeast in this product is just other names for msg??? and if so then I want nothing to do with it. so I am very excited about you making your own and can't wait to try it.

I do have a question, I used to use Fantastic Foods Onion Soup Mix to flavor my lentil loaf, cause it was the only one i could find w/out msg. They have stopped making this. :-( do u have a homemade recipe for an onion soup mix?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Kelly, I just was able to get some of that broth base, and it IS good! Autolyzed yeast does contain msg, but it is not masg. MANY foods naturally contain msg, which is a "free glutamate", for which our bodies have receptors. Because of this, humans may have a sensetivity to msg, but they cannot be allergic to it, no matter how hysterical some people get about it. You would have to give up many many foods in order to avoid it altogether.

Free glutamates are responsible for the "umami effect", which makes foods taste good. There is no reason to add msg (which is extracted from things like beets, seaweed, etc., and not chemically manufactured) to foods, in my opinion, but I don't avoid it in natural foods.

You can read about this in an essay I wrote, which is available online here:

and also in this blog post:

Read through these pieces and also read the book I mention in the first essay to gain an understanding of this.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Kelly, about the onion soup mix-- I didn't know fantastic Foods stopped making that!

Frontier makes it:

Here is a homemade recipe I found online:
French Onion Soup Mix

8 tsp dried onion flakes
4 tsp beef stock powder (I use a vegetarian "beef-style" stock with no additives)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
pinch sugar
pinch white pepper

* Mix ingredients together thoroughly and store in an airtight container or foil package. Keeps for up to 6 months. It is the equivalent of 1 packet of soup mix.

I haven't found a vegetarian "beefy" broth powder in Canada, but here are some msg-free varieties online:,%20Beef%20Flavored&ct=dfmsb

Gowri Chandra said...

such an innovative idea about the veggie broth powder! i actually made it just this evening and it was awesome. i found i had to use a lot more per cup to create a true "stock" or broth, though. but then again, i like a lot of salt.

thanks for sharing!

Izumi Harris said...

Thank you very much for the recipe! I've been trying to find the right combination. It will be so nice not to have to spend so much $$ on pre-made broth powders.

TJ said...

Thank you! I just tried this, and I love it. So handy and so flavorful and economical. :-)

LadyRachelLynn said...

Bryanna, have you heard of Oregon Spice Company's broth powders. Since they are pareve, I believe they are vegan. What do you know about them?

moomoo said...

Finally got all the ingredients together for this EXCEPT the sage, which I will get then make it! and am eager to make it.

On another note, I want to thank you for educating me about the habitat destruction that occurs with palm oil production. Since reading your post I no longer use palm oil-containing products. It seems most mainstream and natural foods companies have replaced hydrogenated fats with palm oil. Have not yet made your vegan buttah but may try it this winter after I order the cocoa butter.