Honestly, these substitutions are delicious.

The fact that I don’t consume canned (or cubed) stock or broth, because they can be excessively salty, and that I’m too lazy to prepare my own means that I frequently cook without them. Then there are the occasions when I don’t have enough time to stock up on my supply of homemade chicken or store-bought veggie broth.

Since broth and stock are used in so many recipes, you may be perplexed as to how this is possible. However, instead of bland meals, I make gourmet broth alternatives using basic mixes of water, fresh ingredients, and numerous add-ins (from kombu and bonito to coffee and beer). This way, I have more say over how the food turns out. Paul Bertolli is well-versed in the subject matter at hand.

Take a look at this list of chicken broth alternatives to see how you can save supper with a few simple swaps, whether you’ve forgotten an item or just want to cook creatively.

Also, fresh herbs and spices should always be added to taste. To obtain a more layered flavor, don’t be hesitant to combine different components (think: citrus + leftovers, mushrooms + tea, tomatoes + wine). Even if you use pre-made broth or stock, you should still include these components to give the dish an extra flavor boost.

Mushrooms
A handful of dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms may rapidly transform a basic kettle of water into an umami bath for a vegetarian alternative to chicken broth. Using this earthy liquid in place of broth or stock in dishes like pot pies, vegetarian gravies, and stuffing for Thanksgiving is a simple and quick swap. If you’re looking for a change from your morning or afternoon caffeine fix, try a cup of this instead. To bring out the earthy flavor of the mushrooms, try adding some strong herbs like rosemary or thyme.

Juice of Oranges
Citrus juice pairs well with savory dishes, whether it is served straight from the squeeze or in a bottle. Citrus juice and water, in a 1 to 2 ratio, can take the place of the broth. Next, cook beans, creamy polenta, seafood dishes, and this rice-and-smothered-cabbage soup using the stock you’ve accumulated. Seafood recipes like shrimp and grits risotto or fiery Jalapeno Corn Soup with Seared Scallops might benefit from a touch of sweetness. You can also experiment with grapefruit, lime or lemon. For one thing, the acids in citrus fruits are great for cleaning out the bottom of the pan of burnt-on caramelized brown pieces.

Fruit Preserves and Jams
In a fruit salad, tomatoes may not be appropriate, although fruit is appropriate in savory foods (especially those starring tomatoes). Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of jam or coarsely chopped dried fruit to replace the broth. This Persian eggplant stew, short rib chili, and chili gumbo all benefit from the addition of apricots and cherries. Figs or plums would also be a good accompaniment to this borscht.

Tomatoes
Umami is a flavor compound found in both mushrooms and tomatoes. Simply substitute half the broth with water and half fresh sliced tomatoes for a lighter dish (or homemade tomato sauce). Alternatively, add dried tomatoes to a pot of boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes, strain, and utilize the liquid in its current state. Instead of discarding them, leave them in the pot and puree them for a richer flavor. Finally, combine this red curry with carrot ginger bisque and more borscht with your tomato broth.

Wine
Use water and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wine in place of the broth. Soups like Passatelli in Brodo (to which you can also add citrus juice) and Broccoli, Lemon, and Parmesan Soup benefit from the addition of white. Red wine, on the other hand, imparts a complex, smoky flavor. It’s a common ingredient in many ragu recipes! Make like the Italians and use it in hearty, rich meals like this beef and barley soup or this chili.

Tea
Use the sachets before dessert to give your dish an extra taste boost (and an element of surprise). Let the tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes in a pot of water that has been boiled for the same amount of time as the broth. Poached fish or bouillabaisse benefit from a more delicate white tea. A stronger genmaicha would work well in soba or ramen, or in a creative take on egg drop soup.

Jus
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt says that “Jus” is simply a drastically reduced meat stock. Veal and/or chicken stock is typically prepared in this manner by restaurants.” The gelatin-rich stock would then be used to flavor whatever meat you’re serving with browned trimmings, and it would be strained and reduced slowly.” It’s a delicious substitute for stock, and if you use jus in place of a lighter stock, the flavor will be considerably more robust. Add hot water to the jus you have on hand to substitute for stock.)

Stock Made with Fresh Garlic
It’s another large little dish from Emma Laperruque if you’ve got a ton of garlic and a ton of water. What a great idea that would have been if I had come up with it on my own. They’re understated, yet oozing with taste nonetheless. There is just one item needed to make this incredibly flavorful vegetable stock. And yes, there are two whole heads of garlic in the recipe. Simmering the foodstuff in water and salting it transforms it into something resembling caramelized onions. With “pools of delicious depth,” she describes the final product.