Vegetable broth – tips for buying and making your own

Vegetable broth – tips for buying and making your own

Vegetable broth is handy to have on hand for making rice dishes, risotto, and soups. It’s convenient to buy at the store but be sure to look carefully at the ingredients. Some list carrots as the first ingredient and the broth can be orange in color and very sweet. Some manufacturers such as Whole Foods brand add a bit of sugar and oil which is best to avoid. Trader Joe’s Organic Hearty Vegetable Broth has carrots as the first ingredient but does not add sugar or oil. Try a few brands to see what you prefer.

Of course the best broth is what you make from scratch. It’s not difficult, just takes a bit of advanced planning. But it’s worth it. You can control how intense you want the flavors to be and design it for the dish you are making.

A time-saving (and money-saving) tip is to save clean vegetable trimmings in a gallon freezer bag as you are cooking other meals or making salads. You can use theses scraps that would otherwise get composted to make broth. Save onion and shallot peels and the ends of leeks and green onions; carrot and potato peels, ends of celery (and their leaves), chard stems and bell pepper. In a separate bag save mushroom ends. You’ll add the mushrooms if you want a darker, earthier flavor, especially if you are making a mushroom risotto. You can also add fennel which will give a licorice flavor. Avoid cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage as they will add a bitter taste. Red beets will turn it red.

You can make a broth using just the scraps plus herbs (see recipe below) or add additional vegetables which you can roast or sauté first if you want a more intense flavor. Here is a wonderful basic broth recipe from Anna Thomas, featured on Epicureous.

For a broth just from the scraps, use this recipe from

  • Place 4-6 cups of scraps in a soup pot or dutch oven and add
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 branches of Italian parsley
  • A sprig of thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Cover with water, about an inch above the veggies, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.
  • Strain the broth through a colander lined with cheesecloth or a strainer.

If not using the broth right away, let it cool completely and freeze it in a freezer-proof container or ice cube trays, or store for up to five days in the refrigerator.