Vegetable Broth

This vegetable broth recipe, made with vegetable scraps, is economical and easy and vegetarian and can be kept in the freezer.

Vegetable Broth

If you collect vegetable scraps throughout the week, you’ll find yourself with more than enough materials to make this sumptuous vegetable broth recipe come Sunday.–Erin Scott

LC Guilty Conscience Note

Do you get clobbered by a guilty conscience each time you let vegetables languish in the fridge? Yeah, us too. “Even when I toss perfectly good veggie scraps into the compost bin, I feel a tug at my conscience telling me the act is wrong,” says the author of this lovely, if loosely defined, vegetable broth recipe. Gah. It’s like she can read our minds. No more guilt, though. Not with this recipe.

Vegetable Broth

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 4 H
  • Makes about 6 cups
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Rinse your veggie scraps and toss them into a stock pot. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, maybe a few cloves of garlic or a shallot, any extra herbs you’ve got lying around, and maybe a rind of Parmesan, if you want. (You can veer from the recipe and use practically anything you want.) Cover everything with plenty of water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to achieve a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot and watch your scraps turn into nourishment after a few hours of simmering.

When the vegetable broth is infused with flavor, turn off the heat and let the liquid cool a bit. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the used vegetables right into the compost bin and strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer.

Use your vegetable broth to make risottos, soups, stews—any recipe you crave. You can stick the broth in lidded containers or resealable plastic bags and stash in the fridge for up to several days or toss it in the freezer until you need it.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I don’t know why I don’t make this vegetable broth every week. I know there are all sorts of vegetable peelings and trimmings going into the garbage. I know I need stock all the time. And I’ve known how to make vegetable stock for years! The problem is that I only think about it when a recipe calls for it and then it’s too late, so I go with the commercial variety. This recipe is so easy and takes no time at all. Just gather the ingredients you’ve been collecting in your fridge, throw them in a pot of water, and simmer for 2 hours. I used scraps of leek, zucchini, broccoli stems, some slightly aged carrots, celery stalks with their tops, and small amounts of basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chive which I harvested from my terrace pots. My yield from this recipe was 6 cups. I haven’t done anything with the stock yet and most of it's in my freezer. However, I do see some lovely soups and risottos in my future. What a great way to make some deliciously useful stock without any strange additives and save some money at the same time! I’m pledging to make my own vegetable stock every week or so in time for the holidays when I know I’ll need a small ocean of stock.

I like to see a recipe confirming or suggesting what I intuitively do, giving me confirmation that I am not being silly frugal in my kitchen. One of the reasons I like making vegetable broth is that I’ve only found one brand of store-prepared broth that’s not too sweet. The major failing with most packaged vegetable broths is that they rely too much on onions and carrots and other root vegetables. I stash the excess celery stalks, Parmesan rinds, and leek tops in my freezer for use in chicken or vegetable broth. Since I was using leeks this week, I had several sections of light green leeks saved from a recipe that only wanted the white portion, a half quart celery stalks and leaves, nice tops from some kohlrabi, and half a dozen Parmesan rinds. I’d been saving them to make a broth of just Parmesan, but I thought this combination would work nicely with garlic, shallots, and bay. A teaspoon of kosher salt went in before I remembered to use sea salt, but no harm done, and I used a hefty 1/2 tablespoon of a mixed peppercorn blend. If I didn’t already have a specific soup in mind I probably would have added parsley, lemongrass, or thyme, as I do in my chicken stock. I brought it to boil in a tall pot, reduced it to a simmer, and set it on the back of the stove for a bit over 2 hours. Then I strained it, cooled it, and refrigerated it. Once it’s chilled thoroughly, I skimmed off a little fat—from the Parmesan, I believe.

I realize this is mostly a method rather than a recipe—and that’s the brilliance behind it. You can do this yourself with very little effort and lots of choices that give you total control. (You could add dry mushrooms for a heartier flavor.) Next thing you know, you’ll be doing a court bouillon in your sleep!

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  1. This smelled so good and I had such high hopes to use it in the Portuguese white bean soup, but maybe I cooked it too long? I usually only do an hour for my veggie stocks. It was very dark and bitter by the end and I ended up having to toss it. I put some leek tops, a stalk of celery, a shallot, a half a red onion, some garlic cloves, green peppercorns, bay leaf and some yellow onion peels I’d been saving. At the end I threw in some thyme I harvested from the outback but really just let it steam bc once I came home to check on it it already smelled too strong. Maybe not enough water? Oh and a parm rind. Thoughts on why it became so bitter?

    1. Jasmine, I’m sorry to hear this didn’t turn out for you. A few different things could have contributed to the stock turning bitter. Occasionally, when cooked too long, they can be bitter. Also, if you used a lot of onion peels, that could have contributed to the bitter flavor. Did you season your broth with salt before simmering? That is also a factor in the flavor. Lastly, it probably could have benefited from some sweeter vegetables, like carrots, to help balance that flavor.

  2. Can’t remember when I last peeled a potato. You know, all the vitamins… Just made a vegan stock, mine are usually chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, fish, etc. Here’s my clean out the fridge vegan stock: onion, celery carrot, escarole, fennel, mushrooms, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, shallots, scallions, black peppercorns, jerusalem artichokes (sun chokes), bay leaf, and potato water (I had made mashed potatoes with cubed unpeeled potatoes simmered in filtered water. I thought it would go cloudy, but it didn’t. No idea why not. Maybe the gentle simmer didn’t release much starch into the water?) OMG, so good! I sipped a cup like tea, divine. There has to be some vitamin and mineral benefit to this stuff. As I tasted it, along the way the fennel seemed to make it a bit too sweet. The escarole’s bitterness offset that. There was a balance that I’ll likely never taste again. My hubby’s complaint is that when I cook something he loves, he probably won’t have it again. Yep, always cleaning out the fridge. Only buy what looks good at a good price. There are a couple of recipes I duplicate, not many. Redfish court bouillon is one. When I make stock I like to steep it like tea. Simmer for a couple of hours, then refrigerate. Bring it back to a simmer, maybe add some more veggies or bits, then strain. I avoid the danger zone on temps by plunking a very clean bottle of frozen water into the middle of a large batch. Did not know I had so much to say about stock or broth. Hope it benefits someone.

    1. nola2chi, thank you, what a treasure you are. I, too, am certain there is benefit to sipping those veggie stocks. And brilliant trick on the bottle of ice to quickly cool the stock. I’ve been pouring my stock into a roasting pan to increase surface area to help it cool quickly, but your way is vastly easier. You’ve already been of benefit to me and, no doubt, to others as well. Thank you.

  3. Interesting about the potato peels. I think I would peel with a knife and make thicker peels that I do with a vegtable peeler. But I guess they should be left out of the vegtable broth.

  4. David, just did an article on using potato peels as a snack. I tried it and it’s a tasty frugal tip. Just remember to give your potato a good scrub before peeling. Fry them up and salt and pepper them or get fancy with some sour cream.

    1. Ann, I have a recipe in my cookbook for deep-fried herbed potato peels. The Lee Bros., who blurbed the book, loved them. In fact, sometimes I make a dish with potatoes just so I can have the skins to fry up!

    1. June, I personally don’t use them. My concern is they can cloud the broth and make it starchy. I think they go best in the compost pile. Anyone else think differently?

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