Homemade vegetable broth is super easy to make, way cheaper than the box, and you’ll never find store bought as healthy as the vegetable stock you make yourself. Veggie broth is a staple in many recipes, including healthy soups and most Thanksgiving recipes.
This post was updated from the original that was published January 11, 2016.
- What is vegetable broth?
- Ingredients and Substitutions
- Need Veggie Broth in a hurry?
- How to make vegetable broth from scratch
- Why is homemade Vegetable Broth better?
- What’s the difference between stock and broth?
- Debra’s Pro Tips
- Vegetable Broth FAQs
- Recipes that use homemade vegetable broth
- 📖 Recipe
You’ll definitely want to have some of this simple vegetable broth on hand for your Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes. You’ll also use this every day for all your favorite soup recipes and your everyday recipes call for veggie stock.
Don’t get caught off guard. Homemade Vegetable Stock is easy to make, healthier and less expensive than the box and you can freeze in different sizes to always have some on hand.
Trust me, this is the best vegetable broth out there…and once you realize how easy it is to make, and how much more healthy, you will NEVER go back to one of those store bought boxes again.
Oh, I totally “get” why people buy those boxes of veggie stock….they’re convenient. So easy to keep in your pantry and have on hand for the last minute soup you decide to make. That’s me (last minute soup maker)…on many a cool night when I have no other dinner planned.
BUT I gave up that expensive and unhealthy habit (buying the box) and I’ve never looked back. Now I keep veg stock cubes in my freezer so I’m always prepared.
Still buying bullion? Do you even know what’s in it? I’ll tell you: sodium, lots of it. And often MSG, inferior quality fats, food coloring, and hydrolyzed soy or corn proteins. Keep reading, I’ll show you how easy it is to make no sodium vegetable broth from scratch. However…if that’s what you’re used to using in your recipes, I’ve got good news for you. My homemade vegetable bouillon powder recipe is super easy to make, uber convenient and you can turn that powder into broth in just one minute.
What is vegetable broth?
Vegetable broth is made from simmering vegetables in water until they are soft. During the process, their flavors and nutrients have been released into the liquid…just one reason a good veggie broth is referred to as liquid gold.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Onions: You can also use leeks or fennel.
- Carrots: They create a sweetness to the stock, plus provide a golden color.
- Celery: Use the leaves too, for added flavor.
- Parsnips: Substitute turnips or celeriac.
- Parsley: Nothing beat the fresh earthy flavor, but you could always sub fresh thyme or oregano.
- Bay leaves: Dried thyme is a decent substitute, but a bay leaf adds a subtle extra layer of flavor.
- Garlic: Substitute chives or garlic scapes.
- Peppercorns: Subtle flavor, since they’re strained out. Whole pink or white peppercorns can be subbed for the black.
I always start with the basics. If I’m making a batch of broth to keep in the freezer to have on hand when needed, I stick to the traditional veggie broth ingredients listed above. Generic is good in this case. If, however, I have something more specific in mind for the finished broth, then I will embellish the basic vegetable stock with an assortment of other ingredients. Feel free to add any of the following into your pot of simmering vegetables:
- ASIAN: fresh ginger, shitake mushrooms, scallions.
- MEXICAN: tomatoes, jalapenos,
- SWEET: sweet potato, winter squash, apples or pears.
- OTHER: include zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, potatoes, turnips.
AVOID: Strongly flavored or colored veggies like beets, purple carrots, rutabagas, cabbage, cauliflower broccoli, brussel sprouts and greens. Those are fine to add to a soup that is made with stock as the base, but they’re not ideal vegetables to use for the basic broth.
Need Veggie Broth in a hurry?
Convenience doesn’t have to come at the cost of chemicals!
This recipe for vegan bouillon powder uses simple ingredients that you recognize, lets you control the amount of salt to add, has a long shelf life and….the best part: Just add water and go from bouillon powder to flavorful vegetable broth in just 1 minute!
How to make vegetable broth from scratch
Fill a large stock pot with quartered onions, roughly chopped carrots, parsnips and celery. Add in a bunch of fresh parsley, some whole cloves of garlic, a couple of bay leaves and a handful of whole peppercorns. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
When the veggie broth is done, use a colander to pour out the cooked vegetables and strain. All the nutrients and flavor will be left in the broth. Cool completely before transferring into storage containers.
The cooked vegetables can be placed in your compost bin. Or, if you’d like a creamy soup, discard the bay leaf, peppercorns and greens, then puree the rest and add it back to the strained stock. Mix well. Taste for seasoning, adding a pinch of salt if desired. It’s nourishing, satisfying and delicious.
I find it super convenient to freeze the vegetable broth in 1 cup cubes. I use silicone molds in various sizes to meet my future needs and then transfer to a freezer safe zip top bag for convenient storage that doesn’t take up much room in the freezer.
Why is homemade Vegetable Broth better?
- Budget friendly: I can make 3 quarts (the equivalent of 3 boxes) of veggie broth for significantly less than it costs to buy one box.
- Rich and flavorful: When you use just whole, real food, the taste comes shining through. There’s no need for flavor enhancers either. Put in more (or less) of the ingredients that you prefer, and boil it down to concentrate if that’s the rich taste you’re looking for.
- Nourishing: No additives (MSG)or preservatives. No added processed vegetable oils, salt or other ingredients you don’t need/want in your soup base. Plus you can make it to suit your dietary needs. Low fodmap? Just omit the ingredients you cannot have and add more of something else.
- More convenient: Yes, you read that right. When you make a batch of broth from scratch, you can also determine how to store it so it best suits YOUR lifestyle. If you know you’re always looking for 6 cups for a particular recipe, freeze it in 6 cup increments. If you cook without oil and just need a bit here and there to keep your pan from running dry, freeze in 1 Tablespoon ice cube trays. Then, you pull out JUST what you need, without any waste.
- No salt: No sodium vegetable broth is hard to find. If you’re on a low sodium diet, and trying to control your ingredients, this is a game changer. Homemade no salt vegetable stock is the answer!
What’s the difference between stock and broth?
The terms veggie stock and veggie broth are often used interchangeably. It’s fine to substitute one for the other as well. I use both terms in most of my soup recipes, so you’ll know that either is OK. Most stock refers to a clear liquid that’s made with animal (chicken, beef, fish) bones. So, with vegan stock, there’s very little that sets it apart from vegetable broth, but here are a few takeaways:
- Broth is seasoned….stock is not. Here’s where the no salt phrase is inferred.
- Broth is something you sip, stock is for use in cooking.
- Some purists say that if it’s vegan there isn’t any difference….that the main difference is in the bones.
Having said all that….I encourage you to make a pot of simmered vegetables, strain them and use the liquid for any recipe that calls for either veg stock or broth.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Keep a bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer. As you trim carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, fresh herbs, etc, toss what would otherwise have gone into the compost pile into that freezer bag. When you’re ready to make veggie broth, add the contents of the bag to the pot for added depth of flavor.
- Freeze in various sized containers..including regular ice cube trays…so you can take out just the amount needed. Vegetable stock cubes are super convenient.
- Use veggie broth cubes directly from freezer into your pot of soup. They will defrost quickly, melting right into what you’re making.
- If you’re using zip top bags, make sure they’re freezer grade.
- Keep in mind that the liquid will expand when frozen, so allow that little bit of extra space in your glass jars so they don’t crack.
- If you’re used to store bought stock, you’re also used to a lot of sodium, so give yourself time to adjust to the clean taste of no salt vegetable broth. You’ll also want to keep this in mind when recipes call for broth or stock…they’re assuming it’s already salted, so you may want to taste the final product and then adjust seasonings accordingly.
Vegetable Broth FAQs
Strongly colored veggies like beets, purple carrots, red cabbage, will discolor your broth. Strongly flavored vegetables like cauliflower broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and greens will make your broth bitter. Starchy vegetables like potatoes or winter squash will make your stock cloudy rather than clear.
Stock is made from bones and vegetables. Broth does not use bones. Some purists say that if it’s vegan there isn’t any difference….that the main difference is in the bones.
Other differences between stock and broth: Broth is seasoned, stock is not. Broth is something you sip, stock is for use in cooking.
Recipes that use homemade vegetable broth
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- 2 onions
- 4 large carrots
- 3 parsnips
- 3 stalks celery
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 bunch parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon peppercorns
- 5 quarts water
- PREPARE THE VEGGIES: as you prep each one, throw into a large stock pot. Quarter the onions, leaving the skins on if your prefer a more intensely colored broth. Peel (or don't peel and just scrub with a loofa) the carrots and parsnips and roughly chop. Large pieces are fine. Clean and trim celery and then roughly chop. Peel the garlic, but leave the cloves whole. Rinse the parsley, leaving the stems on.
- Pour in 5 quarts (20 cups) filtered water, plus the bay leaves and whole peppercorns, to more than cover the vegetables.
- Over medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Strain and put cooked veggies aside*
- Transfer cooled veggie stock to covered containers. It will stay good in the fridge for up to a week, in the freezer for up to 3 months*
- Freeze in quart sized containers for easy access when making a pot of soup, or in ice cube trays (pop into zip top bags once frozen) so you can easily defrost small amounts when needed (perfect when a pan is dry and you don’t want to add additional oil).