Homemade Vegetable Broth

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making your own vegetable broth is wonderfully easy and blissfully imprecise.

There is only 20 minutes of active time, it doesn’t really require a recipe, it uses up those veggies in your fridge you’ve been meaning to eat, it tastes great, it stores easily, and is highly customizable.

Still haven’t convinced you?

Well let’s talk for a moment about broths you find in the store.  Cook’s Illustrated did a taste test of 10 veggie broths for their May/June 2008 issue and I found the results surprising.  Only one brand was remotely acceptable.  Five of their broths were certified organic; not one of those was the winner.  Here’s a quote that might get you thinking about making your own broth at home:

If the vegetables you start with are not top notch, or if you’re using scraps and peels*, extended cooking can enhance and concentrate any undesirable flavors in the vegetables…. Sure enough, our testers noticed sour, bitter, even “rotten” notes in each of our so-called stocks in our lineup.

And the organic broths?

…moderate sodium content and the lack of flavor-enhancing additives helped land nearly all of the organic brands at the bottom of the rankings.  These broths shared lack-luster–even off-putting–flavors  that tasters likened variously to “weak V8,” “musky socks,” and “brackish celery water.”

The winner of the taste test has the highest salt content, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, disodium inosinate, and other additives you probably don’t want in your broth.  The lowest ranking broth, an organic brand, only has salt as a flavor enhancer, but was described as “terrible tasting,” “tastes like dirt,” “like musky socks in a patch of mushrooms,” and “rotten.”

How does making your own broth sound now?  Pretty good, huh?

Homemade Vegetable Broth

As I said earlier, making vegetable broth is blissfully imprecise. I’ll provide the recipe I made up, but please use it as just a guideline to get you started.  If you’re part of a CSA and the fall harvest of veggies has you overwhelmed, simply put the veggies you can’t figure out how to eat in your broth.  I would say there are only three required vegetables for your stock: onions, carrots, and celery.

Fresh CarrotsOnions, carrots, and celery are known collectively as mirepoix, a classic part of french cuisine.  All of these vegetables are aromatics, and you’ll realize that as soon as you start cooking them together; suddenly your kitchen smells like thanksgiving.

You can fancy it up a bit if you feel like it by using parsnips instead of carrots, leeks instead of onions, or celeriac instead of celery.

Mirepoix is a great culinary trick to keep up your sleeve; it’s a great starting point for many many recipes, especially soups and sauces.  It’s not called the holy trinity of French cuisine for nothing.

*Scraps and peels are fine to use when they’re your own, fresh scraps and peels.  I think the article is referring to leftover vegetable reject pieces from other food manufacturing processes that aren’t the best quality, or the freshest.  I think it’s worthwhile to invest in fresh onions, carrots, and celery (none of which are all that expensive) for the broth, but other additions can be scraps from other meals you’ve prepared, or veggies that you don’t have any better plans for.


Vegetable Broth
Makes about 10 Cups of Broth

Minimalist Broth
2-3 Tbs Olive Oil
1-2 Large Onions, chopped
1 lb Celery, Chopped
1 lb Carrots, washed but unpeeled, chopped
3 Whole Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
10 Whole Black Peppercorns
2 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Low Sodium Tamari
1 Gallon Water

I also added, because I could
2 Parsnips, chopped
2-3 Tbs Tomato Paste (or one or two tomatoes)
A few Sprigs Rosemary (parsley is more traditional, use a lot!)
1 Head Broccoli (a strange but decent choice)
1 Sweet Potato (another odd choice, whatever)

You might also have or want to use
Any fresh veggie scraps from other meals
Celery Root
Any Greens

You see what I mean?  If it’s clean and fits in the pot, it can go in.  Minimal chopping, no peeling, just in the pot it goes!

Heat a large stock pot with some olive oil in the bottom.  I chop my way through the vegetable list as I’m cooking–so once the onion is chopped, add it to the pot, then do the celery, the carrots, etc, adding each thing once it’s chopped up a bit.  When you’re out of stuff to add, pour in the water, turn up the heat and cover.  It should only take you about 20 minutes to chop everything and get it in the pot.  From then on out it’s easy street.

Starting Out

Cook for 1 hour, turning the heat down a bit once the whole thing starts boiling.  After an hour, it looks more like this:

About Halfway Done

I finish my broth by adding salt/tamari/soy sauce to taste and letting it simmer uncovered for another 20-30 minutes to concetrate the flavors. The final broth:

All Done

Strain the veggies out into a large pot:

Strain your broth

I further strained it through cheesecloth into a pitcher:

Strain your broth

The pitcher makes it easy to pour some of the broth into ice cube trays for easy storage. Ice cubed size chunks of broth make for easy defrosting and easy recipe additions:

Freeze your broth

The broth will keep about a week in your refrigerator, and two good months in your freezer.  If you cook for the holidays, it’s a good time to make some veggie stock and put it up now to use for all your upcoming holiday meals.  You’ll thank yourself for being prepared, and your food will be that much more delectable!

Homemade Vegetable Broth


  1. Corrie

    You mentioned “any greens” as an addition to the veggie broth. Do you think carrot tops would be ok? Or do you mean greens like mustard, collard, chard, kale, etc.? thanks!

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  7. Janis

    Thanks for great instructions and lovely photos.

    I took your advice and made a big batch last month to take me through the holidays. I was planning on pressure canning the results, so I omitted the olive oil. Ultimately, I ended up freezing the broth in pint-sized glass canning/freezer jars. I used the last jar yesterday – and there’s a new batch on the stove right now.

    For those asking what to do with the veggie bits once the broth has cooked, they really are very spent and devoid of flavor & texture at the end of the broth-making process. Mine go into the compost bin – and eventually back into the garden.

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  9. Stephanie

    This is the best broth recipe I have seen so far, thank you so much! The pics are LOVELY!
    On some sites, people advise to brown the veggies first and then put them in a crockpot. Which do you think is better?

  10. Maria

    Was looking for something more substantial than the basic carrots, celery, onion, bay & garlic. We are getting ready to make some drastic dietary changes and it was refreshing to see pictures of a broth that looked almost chewable. This will make the transition so much easier. I have tons of broccoli frozen from my garden and wasn’t sure if it would be a good idea to add, thanks for the reinforcement on all types of veggies. I wonder how a few brussel sprouts would taste? Nothing like a freezer/pantry full of home grown veggies to inspire. I’m going to make this a favorite so I can come back often.

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  12. Colette

    I think the ice cubes idea is cool as well! Very handy – I happened on this site when i searched for alternative to chicken broth. Thanks much!

  13. susan

    I keep a large ziploc in the freezer to throw all my veggie scraps into- onion tops, celery leaves, broccoli stalks, carrot peels, etc. When it fills up, I put them into a pot with some filtered water, dry white wine, peppercorns, miso, bay leaf, & other seasonings if I have them. Simmer for an hour, drain, press and put the solids into the compost. No extra veggies to buy!

  14. Jeff

    Those photos were lit beautifully, and very classical in tone.
    Like old master paintings.
    Excellent recipe as well…but the pics were outstanding.

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  16. LM

    i couldn’t resist and i made this broth today. it turned out quite nice. i used the basic vegetables that the recipe calls for, but i added a little more salt than the recipe calls for, and also added a splash of marsala wine during the last 10 minutes of simmering to add a little twist on the flavor. a lot of people had asked what to do with the left over vegetables. i am going to mash them into some mashed potatoes. my great aunt nearly had a heart attack when i told her i was trashing the cooked veg (she lived through the great depression) and it made me feel wasteful (i don’t have a compost… yet). so that was my solution. i’ll post my thoughts on the outcome!

  17. LM

    my results on the mashed potatoes were excellent! i should note that i used all fresh vegetables, i don’t know if it would be as good using frozen scraps. hope this helps!

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  19. Manisha Maniyar

    If you are a frequent visitor to farmer’s markets and purchase beets fresh onions with leaves on, use the leaves to make a very flavorful and aromatic broth!

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  24. Vanessa

    I just made this broth tonight! It was so easy to make, but I don’t normally have all these things on hand and it turned out to be a more expensive endeavor than I intended it to be. I used the basics, as she suggests, but supplementing celery root for celery just because I thought that was awesome. I added mustard greens, a poblano pepper, an orange bell pepper, dried forest mushrooms, parsley, a parsnip, a tomato… and I can’t think of anything else… I think that was it. All in all, delicious. A wonderful aroma – however, the mustard greens did add a bitterness that I could’ve done without. I was expecting a peppery, maybe zesty undertone from the mustard greens… but alas. If I make it again I’m nixing the greens. Hoping to use some to make that delicata bisque tomorrow!

  25. Lilyluzkay

    I found myself with a kitchen full of produce days before a 10 day trip and was looking for something to do with it all so it wouldn’t go to waste. Thank goodness for this post (and a few others- I like to combine sources when consulting the internet)! Here’s what I put in it: yellow squash, zucchini, radishes, garlic, daikon, celery, sweet peppers, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and some potato for good measure. Now my kitchen smells like HEAVEN and I have delicious brothcubes to use when I get back!

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  27. Ellen

    Great article! I like to make broth for something warm and healthy to sip from a mug as a substitute for coffee and tea. I also like to add a pinch of ground cayenne pepper to the pot while cooking, so it has a slightly spicy flavor. If you try this, just be aware that a little goes a long way, so add cayenne sparingly until you get it just to your liking. If you catch a cold, veggie broth is a nice thing to sip for that reason too, and garlic is another healthy addition.

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  30. Al

    Sounds great! I am lucky to have a friend who has 2 pigs, Elvis and Zoey who usualy get my fruit and vegi scraps, but now they will have some competition. I have been using V8 juice and rotel tomatoes to give my vegtable soup a flavorful easy base for years but will now give this a try. I am going to use it first to make vegi french onion soup. THANKS!

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  38. Myrna Taylor

    I’m newly vegan and had no idea how to obtain “vegetable broth.” Have not been able to find it in regular grocery stores, and have not yet made my first trip to the “whole foods store” because parking is limited. I can’t wait to make my own broth. Thanks for sharing this wonderful-looking recipe!

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  40. Sheri M.

    I’m trying a vegan diet for my health; hoping to rid myself of arthritis. I’m planning on using your Vegetable broth recipe.
    I think it will taste good poured over brown rice.Thaks!

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