You’ll ditch the boxed stuff once you try my Homemade Vegetable Broth. Easy to make, gorgeous color, intense flavor, and so much less expensive.
For years, I used store-bought broth in my cooking. I originally bought it in the can, but it wasn’t convenient because I never used all at once. Broth in the box was a game changer, as it’s made to store in the fridge. I primarily used chicken broth, but eventually started buying vegetable broth as well and then kept both in the fridge.
What do you make with broth, you ask? Well, it’s a beautiful substitute for water in so many things: quinoa, farro, soups, sauteed green beans or asparagus, risotto, and the list goes on. The first time I made quinoa I used water, and nearly threw it away because it tasted like wallpaper paste. Now I cook it, and farro, exclusively in broth. There is no comparison in flavor.
I’m a big fan of The Food Network, but only the cooking shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I almost never watch during the week, because it’s all competition shows. A couple of years ago on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten made chicken broth. Ina talked about how easy it was to make any type of broth, but for some reason I was still gun shy to do it myself.
A few months later I ran out of boxed broth, and needed it for a recipe that evening. I was in full kitchen mode that morning, and had just made pizza dough and pasta. So I guess it was the perfect time to continue the adventure by making broth. I decided to start with basic vegetable broth.
Ina was right…vegetable broth is so simple to make. You literally throw vegetables into a pot, cover with water, simmer, and strain. I mean, what gets easier than that?! After I made it the first time I began to save vegetable scraps in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, it’s time to get cooking
What goes into the bag? Any mild vegetable: onions, garlic, scallions, celery, carrots, mushrooms. Just remember, your broth is going to taste like the vegetables you use, so you don’t want anything too powerful. Don’t use vegetables that are going bad, because they will make your broth bad. Whenever I cook, I put all of the vegetable scraps into the bag. It takes me a few weeks to fill the bag, but that’s because I cook for one. For a couple or a family, you’ll fill up the bag much more quickly.
When you’re ready to make vegetable broth, take the bag out of the freezer and let the contents thaw for about an hour. That will speed up the simmering process.
I followed Ina’s suggestion to put a little oil into the bottom of a large pot first, and saute the vegetables slightly. Then add enough water to cover the vegetables, add black peppercorns and 1-2 bay leaves, bring the water to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer. The problem with boxed/canned broth is the sodium; even low sodium broth is quite salty. I don’t add any salt to my broth, and instead season as needed when I cook.
I simmer my broth for about an hour, which results in a very deep, rich color and intense flavor. It’s really personal preference, but you could certainly reduce the cooking time for a lighter broth. Let the broth cool for about 15 minutes, and then strain the vegetables. Let the broth cool fully, and then portion into ice cube trays.
The ice cube tray trick is so handy, and 5-6 cubes results in about 1/2 cup of broth. Once frozen, I put the cubes in a plastic bag for easier storage in the freezer. And then, I just melt them as needed.
I admit, I still have a box of chicken broth in the fridge. But that’s really just because I haven’t tried to make chicken broth yet. And I prefer to use chicken broth when I make risotto, because the vegetable broth makes it too dark. But again, that is just personal preference.
I’m so glad I took the plunge into homemade vegetable broth. I make use of all my vegetable scraps, it saves money, and it is healthier and tastes better than anything you’ll get in a box.
Homemade Vegetable Broth
- Mild vegetables (red/yellow onion, garlic, scallions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc.)
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1/2 Tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
I use vegetable scraps (skins, ends, pieces, etc). I collect scraps in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, it's time to make broth. Of course, you can use whole vegetables as well. Just cut them into chunks, make sure to keep the skin on
Remove scraps from freezer and put into large bowl. Allow to thaw for about an hour
In a large pot, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add vegetables, and lightly saute for 3-4 minutes
Add enough water to cover vegetables. Add bay leaves and black peppercorns. Bring water to boil, reduce to low simmer
Simmer vegetables for about an hour, depending on how deep you want the color to be. The vegetables will rise, so stir occasionally to extract as much flavor as possible
When the broth is at your desired color, remove pot from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes
Strain vegetables through a small sieve strainer into a large bowl. Do this in small batches so you strain out as much broth as you can. Discard the vegetables when they are strained
Allow broth to cool completely. Pour broth into ice cube trays and put into freezer until frozen. Remove cubes from tray, and put into another Ziploc bag in the freezer for storage
5-6 cubes will make about 1/2 cup of broth. I put the cubes into a glass measuring cup and melt for 3 minutes
For delicious recipes that use vegetable broth, click on the photos below!