Many people, when they hear the phrase “vegetable broth,” immediately imagine soup. No argument, they are used as the base of various soups, including puree soups and the famous French onion soup.
In vegetarian and vegan cuisines this broth is indispensable as a great alternative to meat and fish broths.
Another plus: if you for some reason do not use oil in the stew, it can be replaced by a small amount of vegetable broth.
In this article, I’ve put together all the information on making vegetable broth. From selecting and preparing vegetables and other ingredients to recommendations on cooking times and choice of utensils. I’ve made a table of possible vegetable broth ingredients, and in the notes I’ve listed which big-name chefs use them in their recipes. And at the very end, I share my basic vegetable broth recipe.
Why make broth when you have bouillon cubes?
The temptation to buy a ready-made cube in the store and not bother in the kitchen is very great. But, first of all, there are a lot of artificial flavors, preservatives, which is very unhealthy. And also salt. Agree, buying regular salt in the triple price is not very interesting. But homemade broth can even be used in dietary and children’s diets.
Secondly, making a homemade broth, you are one hundred percent aware of all its components and can always adjust the composition of vegetables for cooking a dish, which can not be said about his store counterpart.
Third, overindulging in cubes can not only fail to improve, but also worsen the quality of the food being prepared. In addition, the dish may turn out to be over-salted.
Finally, a broth made from vegetable scraps wouldn’t even cost a penny, because otherwise you would simply throw the scraps away.
So let’s agree on this: in recipes, most of the time, we use natural vegetable broth, and on rare occasions we can afford to replace it with stock cubes. When we don’t have time, we don’t have time, etc.
Principles of cooking vegetable broth
Before you start cooking the broth, wash the vegetables in water. Some people recommend doing this with soap, I personally do not use soap. Additionally, you can wipe the vegetables with a napkin or paper towel to remove all residual impurities.
There is no one rule for chopping vegetables for broth. Finely chopped vegetables will cook faster, but they will need to be handled before they are put in the pot. Chopping vegetables in large chunks is much easier, but it does increase the cooking time. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for you.
If you want to enhance the flavor of the broth, you can pre-stew the vegetables in a little oil. And even richer flavor broth is obtained from the baked vegetables. This is the so-called “brown” broth. I will shoot a detailed recipe sometime and post it separately, but for now just a brief instruction:
- Place the prepared vegetables on a baking tray, brush a little vegetable oil.
- Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (400°F), for about an hour. Adjust the cooking time individually based on the amount and type of food.
- Transfer the vegetables to a pot, fill with water and cook as usual.
Boil the vegetable broth on the lowest heat. Rapid boiling destroys the vegetables, and the broth is cloudy. It is best cooked in a thick-walled pot or Dutch oven (roaster).
Water should be taken in such an amount that it slightly covers the ingredients. If you cook broth with raw vegetables, add water until they begin to float.
Use the water you drink, filtered or bottled.
When making broths, you don’t usually add salt – it’s hard to guess at the amount. After evaporation, the broth may be over-salted. If using broth as a base for cooking, it is better to salt the finished dish.
Some chefs do salt broths, but just a little. In their opinion, that way the vegetables give more flavor to the broth. I also put about 1 tsp. per 3 liters of water, it certainly does not make the broth over-salted, but the taste will be a little brighter.
Cooking time is 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It depends on how coarsely chopped the vegetables are. The larger the pieces, the longer the cooking time.
Cooking in a pressure cooker/multi-cooker
If you have a pressure cooker or multicooker with pressure cooker function at home, I highly recommend using it to cook broths. The high pressure melts the boiling point, the vegetables cook at a higher temperature and give more flavor and aroma to the broth. In addition, the liquid has nowhere to evaporate and all the flavor component does not fly away with the steam.
The principle of cooking is not very different from cooking in a pot. Put all the ingredients into the pressure cooker, fill with water (remember that the pressure cooker must not be filled more than 2/3 full), close the lid. Heat until the valve signals pressure or steam is released. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30-40 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let cool for 60-90 minutes and open the lid only when cool.
When the broth has boiled, drain the broth through a colander into a bowl and strain it through gauze or a fine sieve to remove any small remnants of spices and vegetables. This is an optional step, but highly desirable.
If you want to get a clear broth, do not squeeze the vegetables, no matter how much you want to squeeze all the delicious and useful out of them).
Additional recommendations for cooking vegetable broths
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, yams and pumpkin make the broth cloudy. Use them only if transparency is not important.
- With some strongly flavored vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and artichokes, it is best not to overdo it. They can overload the broth with too much flavor or aroma.
- Keep in mind that dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach, get an unpleasant taste when cooked for a long time.
- Remember that too long cooking does not intensify the flavors of vegetables and herbs, but loses them.
- If you want the flavor of a particular vegetable to dominate the broth, use more of it than the others.
- If the recipe calls for the use of wine, add it at least 20 minutes before the end of cooking. The alcohol will evaporate, leaving only delicate wine notes.
But even too early, at the very beginning of cooking, wine should not be added, as this will prevent the vegetables from softening and give their flavor to the broth.
- Do not use a lot of onion peels and beets. In the first case, the broth will turn brown, and in the second – dark pink.
- Do not abuse the ginger, turmeric and curry powder. Otherwise, their flavor will dominate and completely overpower the flavor of the vegetables.
- Using a new combination of spices, taste the broth before and after adding them so you can make adjustments to the composition and proportions, if necessary.
Making broth from vegetable waste
There is no magic formula for vegetable broth. You can put anything you want in it. You can even use leftovers – peels, husks, dried and peeled vegetable parts, stems of herbs. Just do not be lazy to put it all in the freezer, in a separate bag on the clasp and gradually will accumulate the amount needed to make a delicious and flavorful broth.
The world’s largest cooking network, Tasty suggests using the following leftover vegetables to make broth on its YouTube channel:
- Onions – top and bottom, husk.
- Celery stalks – top and bottom.
- Carrots – top and bottom, peel.
- Garlic – top and bottom, husk.
- Parsley, fennel – stems without leaves.
- Mushrooms – trimmed edges, stems.
- Potatoes, yams – trimmed edges, peels.
Yeah, I was surprised, too. But it turns out it’s not a manifestation of super stinginess. There are a lot of vitamins and minerals in the skins. And their concentration is even higher than in the vegetables themselves. In the freezer such supplies can be stored for up to six months. The main thing is that all the ingredients were cleanly washed and not spoiled.
There are many ingredients used in the preparation of vegetable broth. The main ingredients for vegetable broths are vegetables, herbs, spices, and sometimes wine.
There are three basic vegetables that are found in almost all recipes without exception: onions, carrots, and celery. In cooking, this combination is used to prepare many dishes. It even has its own name: Mirpouais, after the 18th-century French marshal, the Duc de Levy Mirpouais. The recommended vegetable ratio is two parts onion and one part carrot and one part celery.
For aromatic herbs, too, there is its own standard. It is called “garnished bouquet” (from the French “garnished bouquet”). It includes sprigs of thyme, bay leaf and parsley stalks. Everything is wrapped in leek stalks and tied with string for easy extraction from the broth.
Spices should be used in small quantities. They should not dominate the broth or have a pronounced flavor. Usually they are tied in a gauze bag called a “sachet” and tied with a long rope to the handle of the pot.
In the tables below, I’ve compiled the ingredients for vegetable broths from top chefs and culinary influencers.
The main thing is not to overdo it, experiment with different combinations and with the ingredients you have on hand, but definitely do not put everything from the list below into the pot at once. In order not to go overboard, aim for a maximum of 12-14 different ingredients for one broth.
|Title||Approximate amount per liter of water||Note|
|These vegetables are present in almost every recipe for broth. I have already described their preparation above.|
|Leeks||1 pcs.||Longtime chef, James Beard Award nominee, TV host, and author of 3 cookbooks, Chef Jean-Pierre cuts leeks in half and slices them into straws. Leeks are also used in Heston Blumenthal’s vegetable broth|
|Asparagus||10-15 stems||Slice asparagus into 3 to 4-inch pieces like brothers David & Stephen Flynn, authors of Recipes for Happiness: Delicious and Easy Vegetarian Food for the Whole Family, do.|
|Green onions||2-3 pcs.||Celebrity Indian chef Sanjay Thumma, restaurateur and one of the judges of MasterChef India, slices green onions into large pieces.|
|Royal Mushrooms||5-6 pcs.||Cut the mushrooms into 0.5-cm-thick slices like Wil Yeung, chef and author of the first-ever cookbook on vegan ramen. Also found in Blumenthal’s broth recipe.|
|Repa||1 small root vegetable||Paul West, chef at Vue De Monde in Melbourne, bakes turnips in the oven at 130 degrees Celsius, pre-greasing them with vegetable oil. Cook for about an hour until browned.|
|Apples||1-2 pcs.||J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, an American chef and cookbook author, prefers Granny Smith apples and cuts them into four pieces.And Wil Yeung uses Fuji apples in his recipes, cutting them in pieces, along with the core.|
|Ginger root||1 pcs.||Cut a small root into medium sized pieces along with the skin and add it with the rest of the vegetables.Mary’s Nest, author of the Traditional Nutrition eGuide, considers ginger a great antibacterial and antiviral remedy. Add it in large quantities during cold season and drink the broth as medicine. You will feel better immediately.|
|Pasternak||2 pcs.||Dice parsnips along with other vegetables and leftover vegetables and dry in the oven for 12 hours at 65-70 degrees Celsius. This is a tip from Massimo Bottura, the most charismatic Italian chef of our day. His restaurant Osteria Francescana has three Michelin stars and second place in the list of 50 best restaurants in the world.|
|Potatoes||1 pcs.||Oscar Tschirky, the Swiss-American restaurateur commonly known as “Oscar of the Waldorf,” suggests in his Big Cookbook that the potatoes be sliced with the skin.|
|Kombu (dried vegetable seaweed, a type of seaweed)||10 g||Simply add seaweed plates to other vegetables. Seaweed is used in their broths by Mary Nest and Wil Yong.Kombu broths are very popular in Japan. The seaweed is the only ingredient in kombu dashi broth.|
|Zucchini||1 medium-sized||Before placing in the pot, cut the zucchini into medium sized strips. Instead of the whole vegetable, you can use the cuttings when cooking other dishes. The flavor of zucchini complements her broths by Martha Stewart, founder of MARTHA’S Cooking School.|
|Canadian chef (Glen Powell) bakes the vegetables for 1 hour in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius, then puts them in a pot, pours water over them, and puts them in the oven for another hour.|
|Shiitake||150-200 g||Chop the mushroom caps with a knife and add to the vegetables.These mushrooms are a frequent guest in vegetable broths by Chef Andy Baraghani of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.Dried mushrooms in Japan are used to make a hoshi-shitake dashi broth.|
|Batat||2 medium sized pieces||Mary Nest cuts the sweet potato into 8 pieces along with the rind. It is high in potassium and beta-carotene.|
|Tomatoes marinated in tomato juice||300 g||Just open the can and add the tomatoes along with the juice to the broth at the beginning of cooking. This is a signature recipe Chef Jean-Pierre|
|Frozen leftovers||Despite the characteristic cabbage smell, Sanjay Thumma uses vegetables to make Chinese broth.|
|Corn cobs||2 young cobs||Break it up with your hands and put it in the pot with the other vegetables. This ingredient is used by Chuy Valencia, chef, Chilam Balam Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois.|
|Tumeric (turmeric root)|
Dried juniper berries
Handful of berries
|Cut turmeric roots in half lengthwise and cut into pieces. “When combined with juniper berries, which help absorb curcumin, tumeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory,” says Mary Nast.|
Aromatic additives: herbs and spices
|Title||Approximate amount per liter of water||Note|
3 to 4 sprigs
|Can be used alone or in a bouquet of garnishes. Used by almost all chefs. Thyme is better to take fresh. Its delicate floral aroma does not overpower the taste of vegetables.|
|Black pepper peas||3-4 pcs.||Present among the ingredients of many vegetable broths. Don’t forget to add it to the sachet.|
|Garlic||1-2 cloves||Cut in half without peeling, as Wil Yong does.|
|Fennel||3 twigs||James Peterson, chef of famous French and American restaurants, author of many cookbooks, lecturer at the French Culinary University, suggests tying sprigs like a bouquet garni before adding them to the broth. Also found in Heston Blumenthal’s broth recipe.|
|Oregano||2-3 sprigs||Break it into pieces like David and Stephen Flynn do and send it into the broth.|
|Basil||2-3 sprigs||Martha Stewart uses this strong-scented herb for her vegetable broths.|
|Carnation||2 pcs.||Put it in a sachet or directly into the broth, like Paul West.|
|Cilantro||1-2 stems||Caitlin Shoemaker, author of Simply Delicious Vegan, recommends using cilantro stems because they contain additional flavors that the leaves do not.|
|Coriander (seeds)||½ tsp.||Add spice to the sachet, as J. Kenji Lopez-Alt does.|
1 tbsp. flakes
|Anja Cass, author of many books on vegan food, uses these seasonings in her culinary delights and also uses flakes of nutritional yeast. They add a cheesy, nutty flavor to the broth and make a great vegetarian alternative to parmesan.|
Whole black and green cardamom
Coriander seeds Curry stem with leaves
Ginger root Green chili pepper
|No, it’s not a website glitch. It violates all the canons of vegetable broth preparation by Chef Sanjay Thumma. But for Asian cuisine, large amounts of herbs and spices are the norm. Such broth is used to prepare Chinese dishes.|
Recipe for basic vegetable broth
This recipe is not an axiom, you can vary the proportions of ingredients using the information from the article above. You can diversify it by adding other favorite vegetables, spices and herbs. Or any scraps you may have in the freezer. Over time you will find the perfect vegetable broth for your taste.
⏱ Cooking time — 55 minutes overall. Includes 10 minutes of preparation and cooking + 45 minutes unattended.
🍽 For 4 servings:
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 onions
- bunch of greens (green onions, parsley, dill)
- 1 garlic head
- several sprigs of thyme
- several sprigs of basil
- 2-3 laurel leaves
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. white pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 l water
🔪Step by step Directions
To make a basic vegetable broth, wash the vegetables and herbs under cold running water. Try to cut all the ingredients into roughly equal pieces.
Peel 2 medium-sized carrots and remove the tails on both sides (although as you already know, you can safely put those in the pot, too). Cut each carrot in half, and divide the resulting pieces lengthwise into two halves. Put all the slices together and cut into large bars. Prepared in this way, transfer the carrots to a deep bowl.
Take a bunch of green onions and cut them into about 2 cm (0.79 inch) long slices. Transfer to a bowl with the carrots.
Chop 2 stalks of celery with a knife into small pieces, and finely chop the top leaves. Place the chopped celery in the bowl with the vegetables.
Next, peel 2 medium-sized onions. Cut each onion in half and then cut each half into 4 more pieces. Transfer the onions to a bowl.
Cut 1 unpeeled garlic clove in the middle in two parts.
Take a bunch of herbs from the parsley, dill and basil sprigs. Chop with a knife into large pieces and transfer to another bowl.
Place a large saucepan on the heated stove. Pour 2 tbsp. of neutral vegetable oil into it.
Fry 2 garlic halves until golden, allowing the garlic to give off its flavor.
Add the chopped vegetables to the pan with the roasted garlic. Roast all together for 5-10 minutes until golden brown, stirring constantly.
After that, pour 3 liters of water over the vegetables. Mix everything well. Then add 2-3 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. white pepper and 1 tsp. salt..
Mix all the ingredients in the pot well and bring to a boil. Then, turn down the heat on the stove to a minimum, cover the pot with a lid and cook the broth for 30-40 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add the chopped herbs, thyme and basil to the pot. Stir, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
After cooking, strain the broth through a fine sieve and leave it to cool completely.
A basic flavorful vegetable broth is ready.
You can use the broth immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or you can freeze it in portions for later use.
How to store and prolong the life of vegetable broths
Of course, it’s not fun to mess around in the kitchen every time you need vegetable broth.
But, as it turns out, it can be stored even in powder form at room temperature.
In the following I will detail the different methods of storing broth: from simple and time-consuming, to more time-consuming. Which one you choose is up to you.
Storage in the refrigerator
The first thing to do to extend the shelf life of broth in the refrigerator is to refrigerate it properly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends refrigerating liquids, including broths, to 70 degrees Celsius for the first 2 hours after cooking and to 40 degrees Celsius for the next 4 hours.
Chilled broth can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. After all, it does not contain any starchy substances. If at the end of the specified time there is still a lot of broth, it should be boiled and simmered over low heat for 10 minutes. Such broth will be suitable for another 5 days.
If you want to keep the broth fresh for a longer time (up to 6 months) – freeze it. I suggest doing this in rectangular silicone molds. First, the broth is easy to remove from them, and second, it’s easy to stack in the freezer.
Transfer the frozen briquettes to plastic bags and place them on shelves or in freezer drawers.
You can also pour the broth into a zip lock bag after it cools, close and freeze immediately in the bag.
To save space significantly, you can evaporate the broth to 1/15 of the original volume. This will take an additional 5-7 hours, the broth will become less flavorful, but it is an option.
You can also use disposable ice packs for storage. They don’t take up unnecessary space in the freezer, and three to four cubes of concentrated broth are enough for almost any dish.
This method of storage allows you to extend the shelf life of the broth up to 12 months without using the freezer. Strain the broth through gauze or cotton towel. Then pour it still hot into the prepared heated jars and sterilize, covered with lids, half-liter jars for 20 minutes, and a liter – 25.
This broth can be stored at room temperature in the pantry. For more information on home canning techniques, see the The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Dehydration: create your own vegetable powder
This is the most time-consuming method. But the result is a super concentrated vegetable broth powder that can be stored in the pantry for up to two years. The powder takes up very little space and will be indispensable on camping trips.
To get the powder, first evaporate the broth to a thick jelly. This can take 10-12 hours. At the end, evaporate on the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally. The consistency of the broth should resemble molten toffee.
Then transfer the mass to parchment and smooth it out in a thin layer. Dry in an electric dryer or oven for 12-18 hours at 60 degrees Celsius until completely dry.
Break the resulting plate by hand into small pieces and grind in a coffee grinder or blender until powdery.
To prevent residual moisture in the powder, dry it for another hour, cool it, and transfer it to an airtight container. To prevent the powder from sticking together, you can add a little cornstarch to it. But do not forget that the starch will be a thickener in cooking.
And although you get very little powder, it is very concentrated. In most cases, one teaspoon will be enough. Just pour the powder into the hot water and stir. The broth is ready. And note – no preservatives!
By the way, leftover vegetables after cooking the broth can also be dehydrated and grinded into a powder. After all, they still contain some of the useful substances. To dehydrate vegetables faster, I recommend pre-mashing them with a potato masher, and drying them at the same time with the previously obtained jelly. This way you avoid unnecessary energy and time consumption.
Grind the dried leftover vegetables in a blender. This powder will be dominated by fiber, so it is better to mix both prepared powders.
And in conclusion, a few tips on how to choose and where to buy the best vegetables.
Each vegetable has its own individual qualities, but there are also common characteristics.
- The skin should be shiny, not wrinkled, and remain firm when pressed with the fingers.
- Avoid vegetables that look too perfect. It’s likely that a lot of chemical fertilizer was used to grow them.
- Do not buy fruit with cuts, dents, and signs of poor storage (peeling, discoloration, bad odor).
- Pay attention to the seasonality of vegetables. Those that are not sold “at the right time,” harvested early, brought from hundreds of miles away, and deprived of enough sunlight to make them more flavorful.
- Give preference to vegetables bought in supermarkets. Large chains are increasingly working with local producers and the likelihood of buying fresh vegetables is much greater than in conventional stores.
- If you can, buy vegetables from farms or grow them on your own plots of land. In this way, you can diversify your diet with rare vegetables that are not grown by large agricultural producers, such as parsnips, purslane, rutabaga, and others.
By following the right ratios of vegetables, aromatic herbs, spices, and cooking procedure, you are sure to get a balanced, rich, vegetable broth with a rich flavor.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Wayane Gisslen – Professional Cooking Study Guide
- The America’s Test Kitchen – Cooking School Cookbook
- James Peterson – What’s a Cook to Do?
- Oscar Tschirky – The Cook Book
- The Purposeful Pantry
Basic Vegetable Broth
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 onions
- bunch of greens (green onions, parsley, dill)
- 1 garlic head
- several sprigs of thyme
- several sprigs of basil
- 2-3 laurel leaves
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. white pepper
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 l water
- Slice the carrots, celery, and onion into medium sized pieces. Try to make sure they are all about the same size.
- Cut a head of garlic in half.
- Coarsely chop the green onions.
- Heat 2 tbsp of neutral vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped vegetables. Fry for 5-10 minutes, stirring until golden brown.
- Pour in water. Add remaining herbs, spices and salt.
- Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat down to low and cook for 30-40 minutes.
- Strain broth through a fine sieve and cool. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze.