For many of us, homemade vegetable broth may seem like a luxury. But if you’ve read my article on vegetable broths that are merely water flavored with lots of salt and highly processed ingredients, you may think twice about picking up one of the popular, national brands. While there are some pretty good real vegetable broth options out there, nothing compares to the fresh, full-bodied flavor of homemade broth. And it’s so economical since most of the time I whip up a batch using vegetable scraps or other extra vegetables I have in my fridge. But yes, it does take time, so don’t feel guilty if you buy some pre-made broth that uses real ingredients.
Now my recipe shares some pretty specific measurements, but please, take that all with a grain of salt. You can really improvise with broth a lot! Use carrot peels, celery bottoms, greens bean trimmings, or whatever. My recipe should, however, give you a general guide to proportions. Also as you’ll read in the notes, I really love to include mushrooms in my vegetable stock because I think they add a rich, hearty flavor. Mushrooms are also naturally chock full with umami, the savory flavor that MSG and other chemically produced glutamates tries to imitate.
So get out your pot and dice up some veggies. You really won’t regret the flavor that homemade vegetable broth can bring to your cooking!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ cups fresh mushrooms, finely chopped (about 4 ounces) (optional but please see notes)
- 1½ cups onion, finely diced (about 1 large)
- 1- 1½ cups carrots, finely diced (about 2 medium carrots)
- 1½ - 2 cups green onions, chopped (about one medium bunch, green tops included)
- 1 cup celery, finely diced (include some leaves if possible)
- 7-9 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (dried parsley works too)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, or about 6 sprigs of fresh
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups water
- Heat oil over medium heat in a 6-quart pan.
- Add all the vegetables, garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves.
- Cook over medium heat for 8-12 minutes, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown.
- Add the salt and water. Warm the broth to a gentle simmer over low heat, and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes.
- Strain through a cheesecloth lined colander, and discard vegetables.
Mushrooms add a tremendous amount of savory, umami flavor to broth. While they're definitely optional, I think they make a much heartier, richer-tasting broth. This is especially important if the broth is going to play a more important role in flavoring the final dish.
Kitchen Resources & Tips:
- This 100% cotton cheesecloth is the absolute best. It’s unbleached, has a fine mesh, and it’s even washable!
- A great, multipurpose colander is another kitchen necessity for making stock and many other recipes! I bought this colander as a replacement for a really old plastic one that I purchased at a dollar store in the 90’s. Who knows what kind of weird plastics and hormone-disrupting chemicals were in that old one. Yikes!
- A great, non-slip cutting board is an invaluable kitchen asset when cutting up the vegetables for your soup. I upgraded to these Epicurean non-slip boards this summer, and I’ve been really pleased with them.
- A high quality set of cutting knives can make a huge difference, especially when you’re cooking REAL food. My local knife shop advised me to invest in the higher quality Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature brand (much higher quality than the J.A. Henckels International brand) and time has proven them right. (To make sure you know which Henckels knives are better, here’s a tip — look for the “twins” on the knives vs. the single guy sporting the trident.) While you can buy these knives online, if you’ve got a local knife/cutlery store, support them instead. I love my local cutlery store and bring my knives in every six months or so to get them maintained with a nice, sharp edge!