How to Make Vegetable Broth (and Never Throw Away Leftover Produce Again)
You’re making a homemade soup, and the recipe calls for vegetable broth. Sure, you could pick up a carton of the pre-made stuff at the grocery store—convenient, no? But before you do, we think you should make it yourself.
Why You Should Make Vegetable Broth
You know what they say: Behind every good soup is a high-quality broth. Think of it like the building blocks of your recipe. A richly flavored homemade broth will make your end result *that* much better than if you use something store-bought. Aside from taste, making vegetable broth at home is cheap and easy—not to mention a great way to reduce food waste. All that sad-looking produce hiding in the back of your refrigerator? Throw it in the pot. Leftover herbs and aromatic scraps? Those can go in too.
Health Benefits of Vegetable Broth
Vegetable broth has a lot going for it, nutritionally speaking. For starters, it’s hydrating (it is made with water, after all). It’s also low in calories, fat, sugars and carbs while being chock-full of all the phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found in the vegetables, herbs and spices you put in it.
Now that you know why it’s worth the effort, here’s how to make vegetable broth at home.
Before you start cooking, gather your tools and ingredients. You can choose any vegetables (ours are just suggestions) but aim for equal amounts of everything (excluding herbs and spices) for a balanced flavor. We don’t call for salt—it’s more versatile and makes seasoning easier when you use the broth in another recipe.
Equipment You’ll Need
- Large 10- to 12-quart stockpot with a lid
- Large slotted spoon
- Fine mesh sieve
- Wooden spoon
- Large glass or plastic food storage container (we like deli-style quart-containers)
- Whole peppercorns
- Bay Leaf
1. Prepare Your Vegetables
Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables, then roughly chop everything into equal-size pieces. Don’t worry about peeling things like onions or carrots—it won’t change the flavor and is one less step to worry about. (And FYI, you can even use scraps like carrot and onion peels if you have them.) Put everything into a stockpot that’s large enough to hold the vegetables and a few additional inches of water.
2. Cover with Water and Bring to a Simmer
Fill your stockpot with enough water to cover the vegetables by a few inches. The more water you add, the less concentrated your broth will taste. Place the stockpot over medium-high heat and bring it to just below a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low so the broth is at a gentle simmer.
3. Simmer the Broth
You’ll get a good amount of vegetable flavor if you simmer the broth for at least one hour—but don’t worry if it goes for a little more or a little less than that. Cook, stirring occasionally and tasting throughout until you’re happy with the way it tastes. It doesn’t have to be covered unless you plan on simmering it for a very long time (that way all the liquid won’t evaporate).
4. Strain, Cool and Store the Broth
When you’re happy with the flavor of your broth, remove the stockpot from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, strain out the large pieces of vegetables. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the broth into a large bowl or pot. (If you want to go the extra mile, line your sieve with cheese cloth or coffee filters first.) Unless you’re using the broth immediately, divide it into storage containers, let it cool completely, then freeze it. It will last up to 12 months frozen.
Uses for Vegetable Broth
How many ways can you cook with vegetable broth? The limit does not exist. Aside from the obvious (soups and stews), it’s a handy substitute for water if you want to add an extra layer of flavor to grains (like rice or quinoa, for starters), risotto, beans and braises. It can replace chicken stock to make a recipe vegetarian or vegan and, with a few greens and veggies, make the base for a soup itself.
What Vegetables Make Good Broth?
The beauty of homemade vegetable stock is that you can customize it with whatever produce you already have. Onion, carrots and celery are classics and will give your broth a good base flavor. Mushrooms can add an earthy note. Leeks and turnips are also common additions, as well as parsley, thyme, whole peppercorns and leaves. If you know what you’ll use your broth for, you can go wild with ingredients like ginger, chilis and garlic, but if you’re just stocking up (sorry), it’s wise to keep the flavor profile more neutral.
On the other hand, there are some vegetables you should avoid when making vegetable broth. Potatoes are too starchy and will make a gummy, cloudy broth; green beans and zucchini become bitter when cooked for too long; and beets will overpower the rest of the ingredients.