Kitchen Basics: Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making homemade vegetable broth is so easy. If you use it often or have room in your freezer to store it, you should try making it yourself. Homemade broth is less expensive and also has less salt in it. You can control the ingredients and the density of the broth, too.

The vegetables used to make vegetable broth are usually celery, onion and carrots. You can make substitutions, depending on what you have on hand. Add leeks instead of onions, and/or parsnips instead of carrots. You can also throw in clean veggie scraps or peels, and even corn cobs. Keep veggie scraps in the fridge after prepping vegetables to cook, then after a few days, make a broth.  Some cooks like to add chunks of fresh tomatoes rather than tomato paste. For flavoring with herbs, you can add fresh parsley or rosemary. Just be sure not to use potatoes or turnips, because they make the water cloudy. And some vegetables like beets, zucchini or green beans get mushy, so avoid using them in broth, too.

Salt and garlic are optional in vegetable broth. You might want to keep the broth fairly neutral in flavor, since you might not know what recipes you’ll be using it in later. In this recipe, the amounts of sodium and garlic are low and won’t make too much difference in the flavor.

The veggies for broth don’t need to be cut up much at all, I leave mine in about 2-inch pieces. Try to use nearly equal amounts of the carrots, onion and celery. I peel my carrots to clean them. Some people just scrub the carrots and don’t peel them. I also throw in clean lettuce leaves.

Before simmering the broth for an hour, I use the method where the vegetables are allowed to warm or “sweat” over heat without any water. It only takes a couple of extra minutes and it makes the flavor a little bit deeper. I also sauté them in a drizzle of olive oil for 2 to 4 minutes after sweating them, to caramelize them slightly. You can also oven roast the veggies for a few minutes before boiling them.

The amount of the resulting broth will be roughly the same as the amount of water you added into the pot, minus any liquid lost in the boiling steam. For instance, I added 6 to 7 cups and got about that same amount of broth after cooking for an hour. You can add more or less water, to make the broth as dense as you like it. Less water equals a denser broth, of course.

If you don’t have peppercorns on hand, just season with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

When you move the vegetables from the pot to a bowl, you will take some broth with you, no matter how hard you try to strain them in the spoon. So, once you have poured all of the finished broth through the cheesecloth lined strainer, place your vegetables back into the pot. There will be some broth liquid at the bottom of the bowl the cooked veggies were in. Pour that broth from the bowl through the strainer, too. This way you won’t waste a drop!

For recipes in which to use your homemade broth, search “vegetable broth” in the blog search window. Or try a sampling of the recipes here, listed below:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Farro Bake

Hoppin’ John Black-Eyed Peas

Simple Veggie Shepherd’s Pie

Zucchini Zoodle Soup

Slow Cooker Garlic Herb Mushrooms

 

Print Recipe
Kitchen Basics: Homemade Vegetable Broth
An easy to make vegetable broth or stock, using veggies and herbs you have on hand. Better than store bought!
kitchen basics homemade vegetable broth
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
quarts
Ingredients
  • 4 stalks celery washed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 large onion washed, skins can be left on, cut into large sections
  • 3 carrots washed and peeled
  • 4 ounces mushrooms cleaned fresh mushrooms or drained canned
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs, no need to remove the leaves from the stems
  • 1 clove garlic left whole, or 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 leaves bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil optional, if sautéing the vegetables
  • 6 cups water or up to 8 cups
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
quarts
Ingredients
  • 4 stalks celery washed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 large onion washed, skins can be left on, cut into large sections
  • 3 carrots washed and peeled
  • 4 ounces mushrooms cleaned fresh mushrooms or drained canned
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs, no need to remove the leaves from the stems
  • 1 clove garlic left whole, or 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 leaves bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil optional, if sautéing the vegetables
  • 6 cups water or up to 8 cups
kitchen basics homemade vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Coarsely chop the celery, onion and carrots. Clean or drain the mushrooms, if using.
  2. If you choose to do so, sweat, carmelize or roast your vegetables for a few minutes. If sweating or sauteing them, place them all into the stock pot or soup pot. To sweat: turn the heat on low heat for two minutes. To saute: add the 2 teaspoons of olive oil, tossing the vegetables in it, and saute for 2 to 4 minutes, on low heat. Add the dried thyme, garlic and peppercorns during the last minute of sautéing.
    kitchen basics homemade vegetable broth
  3. Or, skip any precooking of the vegetables and add them to the stock pot or soup pot, along with the thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Add water up to a few inches over the tops of the vegetables. Using less water will make the broth more concentrated.
  4. Stir in the salt and tomato paste. Add the bay leaves on the top of the broth.
  5. Bring the water just to a boil, then reduce the heat for the broth to simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Then cover with a lid, with the lid slightly open for steam to escape, for the remaining 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the burner. Remove the vegetables from the broth with a slotted spoon, trying to get all broth to drain off the vegetables.
  7. Line a large strainer (6 to 7 inches wide) with cheesecloth and place it over a large mixing bowl. Pour the stock through the cheesecloth.
  8. Let the strained broth cool, then pour it into storage containers. The broth can be kept in the refrigerator up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 3 months.
Recipe Notes

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