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Homemade vegetable broth doesn’t need to simmer for hours — this vibrant, aromatic broth cooks in about 15 minutes on the stovetop. Here’s the “secret” to the method: It’s full of fresh vegetables that are finely chopped and then simmered in water, which means they release their flavorful essence more quickly. This is a relaxed method for making a basic, clean-tasting broth that you’ll always want to be stashed in your fridge or freezer!
Why you’ll be surprised by this recipe:
- QUICK: It only takes about 15 minutes of simmering.
- CONVENIENT: Uses every day pantry veggies.
- FRESH AND NATURAL: Avoids excess sodium and other additives found in commercially-made boxes of broth from grocery stores.
- FLAVOR: Your food will taste better — use it instead of water as a foundation for soups, pastas and pan sauces.
I often use this golden-colored vegetable broth instead of homemade chicken broth when I want a lighter base for soup recipes, but also as a flavorful liquid to elevate saucy pasta dinners and as a deglaze for pan sauces instead of using plain water.
There are actually two tricks to this quick broth:
- Use an abundance of vegetables, a 3:4 ratio in relation to fresh, cold water
- Cut the vegetables into very small pieces, by hand or with a food processor. The greater surface area makes a tasty broth, cutting the usual cooking time in half.
Water vs. vegetable broth
While water is a fine choice as a cooking liquid in a pinch, vegetable broth adds extra depth of flavor and body to soups, sauces, and other dishes.
Cook time for vegetable stock: Unlike meat broths that require long cooking to break down collagen and proteins, vegetable broths don’t need to simmer for hours. In fact, the quicker the better — under 30 minutes is ideal. Once the vegetables are soft, they’ve given up all their flavor.
Types of veggies to use in vegetable broth
Using fresh vegetable trimmings, peels and tidbits that accumulate from your everyday cooking prep is a great idea.
Expert tip: Keep in mind that attempting to recycle old vegetable “scraps” or spoiled vegetables that have been growing fuzz in your fridge will not make a fresh-tasting broth. When in doubt, ask yourself if you’d want to eat whatever it is you’re throwing into the pot.
- Carrots: Start with whole carrots, one of the components of a classic mirepoix. You can also collect fresh trimmings and peels from your everyday prep and save them in a container or bag for a day or two (or stick them in the freezer) Don’t include any muddy or moldy bits.
- Celery: Trim the dried tips off fresh stalks and use any attached leaves. You can also try adding 1/2 cup of peeled celery root or chopped fennel — they will each contribute a lovely aromatic essence.
- Onion: Use any type, such as yellow, red or white onion. I also use fresh scallions or leeks, if I have them.
- Garlic: Leave fresh cloves whole and unpeeled and smash them with the side of a knife.
- Herbs: A handful of fresh parsley and sprigs of thyme are readily available and are a mainstay in French stocks.
- Other vegetables: You can swap out some of the other vegetables and add in chopped tomatoes, parsnips, button mushrooms or sweet red bell peppers (not green ones) — you need 6 cups total chopped veggies.
Vegetables to leave out of broth
- Most members of the Brassica family, such as cabbage or Brussels sprouts leaves, broccoli, and cauliflower because their stronger, bitter flavors will dominate the broth.
- Beets, leafy carrot tops, and artichokes will add off flavors and darken the clear yellow color of the broth.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes will make the broth cloudy.
- This recipe makes 6 cups of broth. It can be easily doubled or tripled (use a larger pot).
- The broth can be reduced by half to concentrate flavor.
- To store in the refrigerator and freezer: Transfer the cooled stock to leakproof containers in your desired portion size. (I love using 12-ounce Mason jars). Refrigerate until cold before putting the containers in the freezer.
All-Purpose Homemade Vegetable Broth
- 3 large (225 g) carrots, about ½ pound, peeled and trimmed
- 4 medium (165 g) celery stalks
- 1 large (250 g) onion, peeled (about 8 ounces)
- 1 leek, or 3-4 scallions, root ends and top ⅓ green tops trimmed off
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 8 cups (1.89 l) cold water
- 3 cloves garlic, skin on and smashed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, optional
- Rinse all the vegetables to remove any dirt or sand. Chop the carrots, celery, onion and leek into 1-inch pieces. To do this more quickly, cut the vegetables into large chunks and add to a food processor along with unchopped parsley. Pulse 5-8 times to chop them coarsely (try not to puree them).
- Put the chopped vegetables in a large (4-quart) pot. Add the garlic cloves, salt, water and thyme (if using). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Lower the heat to maintain a gentle bubble. Cook 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy.
- Set a mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Immediately pour the broth through the strainer. Cool to room temperature. The solids can be used for soup if they're not too mushy, otherwise discard them into your compost.
- Transfer cooled broth to glass jars or other sturdy lidded storage container. Store refrigerated up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- You can swap out some of the other vegetables to make 6 cups total of chopped veggies. Add in chopped tomatoes, fresh fennel bulb, parsnips, button mushrooms, or sweet red bell peppers (not green ones).
- Transfer the cooled stock to leakproof containers in your desired portion size. (I love using 8-12 ounce Mason jars). Refrigerate until cold before putting the containers in the freezer.