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.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE BROTH?
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 VEGETABLES GO INTO HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH?
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.
MAKING HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH IS INCREDIBLY EASY
I followed Ina’s suggestion to put a little oil into the bottom of a large pot first, and saute the vegetables slightly. I use Canola Oil to saute the vegetables, but Vegetable Oil would work as well. Then add enough water to cover the vegetables, add whole Black Peppercorns and 1-2 Bay Leaves, bring the water to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer. Boxed broth has a lot of sodium; even low sodium broth is kind of salty. So I don’t add any salt to this Homemade Vegetable Broth, and instead add salt as I make a recipe.
I simmer my broth for about an hour, which results in a very deep, rich color and intense flavor. You could certainly reduce the cooking time for a lighter broth. Let the broth cool for about 15 minutes, and then strain out the vegetables. I use a Fine Mesh Strainer to ensure that only the broth gets through.
FREEZE THE HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH IN ICE CUBE TRAYS!
Yes, you read that correctly. Once the broth is fully cooled, I pour the broth into Ice Cube Trays. And then, once frozen, I store the cubes in a Ziploc Bag. The cube trick is so handy, and 5-6 cubes makes 1/2 cup of Homemade Vegetable Broth. When I need broth I put the cubes in a Glass Measuring Cup and microwave for 3 minutes, and it’s ready to go.
One thing to note: buy separate ice cube trays for freezing broth. No matter how many times you wash the trays, you will never fully eliminate the broth scent. And you don’t want your beverage ice cubs smelling like broth!
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.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
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 canola oil or vegetable 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 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 15 minutes
- Strain vegetables through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Do this in 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 in the microwave for 3 minutes