A meatless, homemade vegetable broth recipe that's better than the store-bought version? Yes, it's absolutely possible. This recipe is so easy to make, and not only does it taste better than the store-bought stuff, but it's also better for you. In addition, it's vegetarian and vegan-friendly, gluten-free, plant-based, and dairy-free.
Vegetable broths are great for soups, stews, rice pilafs, and anything else you'd want to add a little more flavor to. Making your own broth is really easy, but many people often end up using the store-bought kind. They are frequently loaded with sodium, gums or thickeners, vegetable oils, sugar or fruit concentrate, flavoring substances and solvents, emulsifiers, and preservatives.
In comparison, using a vegetables broth recipe is cheaper, quick to make, and tastes really good. To begin with, you have more control over the amount of salt that goes into the vegetable soup broth recipe, and there's no risk of hidden thickeners or sweeteners making their way into it.
Vegetable Broth vs. Stock: What's The Difference?
Traditional stock and broth are very similar. However, some factors differentiate them. Specifically, these are the ingredients, cooking times, and the presence (or lack) of seasoning.
A classic or traditional stock is made from simmering bones plus aromatic vegetables — like onions, carrots, and celery — in water. It is cooked for anywhere from two to six hours on the stovetop. Stock always involves bones, although not necessarily meat. Furthermore, stock is always left unseasoned and is the foundation of soups, sauces, and many other tasty dishes.
On the other hand, a traditional broth is made by simmering meat (which can contain bones but doesn't have to), aromatic vegetables, and your choice of seasonings in water for around two hours. The result is a thin, flavorful liquid that can be used in the same ways that you'd use stock. Of course, you can also serve it on its own like a consommé.
When it comes to the vegan and vegetarian alternatives, vegetable stock is used interchangeably with vegetable broth since veggies don't have bones.
Tasty Vegetable Broth From Scraps
In the event that the crisper drawer of your refrigerator is full of aging carrots and all sorts of leftover produce that is on the decline, you can minimize food waste in your kitchen and use them to make a vegetable broth recipe that will save you money on both ends. Not only do you save the dollars you'd spend buying pre-made broth, but you also get to use up the produce you already have.
You can even plan ahead and save up your leftover vegetable scraps (peels, leaves, ends, cores). Store them in a freezer-safe reusable bag and once you have enough, dump the scraps into a pot, fill it with water, and let it simmer.
Give your broth a boost by using fresh herbs and aromatics like thyme, crushed garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Want a little kick in your vegetable broth recipe? Add some whole peppercorns.
Here's an oldie but a goodie from the Youtube vault: "How to Cook Vegetable Broth Using Scraps" tutorial.
My Secret Ingredients For The Perfect Homemade Vegetable Broth Recipe
You can use simple ingredients like carrots, onions, and celery to make a tasty batch of vegetable broth. This will give you the base to make various dishes and act as a substitute for any meat broth or stock called for in a recipe.
My version contains ingredients with lots of nutritional goodness that are great for overall health. It has become a staple in my kitchen, and I think it's so much better than what you can get from the store.
1. Sea vegetables
Edible seaweed like kombu or wakame has a fiber content similar to that of lentils and is a rich source of nutrients. They are full of vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, and are also a good source of antioxidants. Depending on the species, sea vegetables can contain anywhere from 10-30% protein.
I love using maitake or shiitake mushrooms. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. Also, they are natural umami foods, thanks to their high glutamate content. Umami is considered the fifth category of taste in food, alongside sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. It is often described as a savory deliciousness that deepens flavor.
3. Bay leaves
When infused into water, broth, or some other cooking liquid, bay leaves develop an almost minty flavor (somewhere between menthol and spearmint) with subtle hints of black pepper. This herb adds a slight bitterness that balances out the flavor in soups and stews.
4. Orange vegetables
These include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, winter squash, and various red peppers. Orange vegetables are especially high in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, as well as antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene. I like to use winter squash and carrots for my broths.
5. Green vegetables
Kale stems and celery are examples of green vegetables that I like to use in my vegetable broth recipe. Celery is a source of potassium, vitamins A, C, and K. It also contains quercetin, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. Kale stems are loaded with all sorts of nutrients, like manganese, calcium, copper, and magnesium.
6. Burdock root
Burdock root has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage, which are great for restoring digestive health. Traditionally used as a blood cleanser, burdock root helps eliminate toxins from the bloodstream and promote increased circulation.
7. Plants from the onion family
Allium vegetables — those found in the onion family — are rich in organosulfur compounds, which may be beneficial for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. They also contain phytochemicals, which may improve immune health and reduce cancer risk by preventing inflammation, cell damage, and DNA damage.
For my vegetable broth recipe, I like to use onions, scallions, garlic, or leeks, a natural source of inulin that supports good gut bacteria.
Bonus ingredient for my vegetable broth recipe: dried astragalus root
Also called Huang qi or milkvetch root, astragalus is a plant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. This plant is an adaptogen, meaning it aids our bodies to react to or recover from short- and long-term physical or mental stress.
Broth making tip: Do you have a vegetable that you're wondering whether or not to use in your homemade broth? I found this comprehensive list of veggies on Jennifer's Kitchen to guide you on which veggies work well in broth (and which don't).
How To Make My Recipe For Vegetable Broth
The flavor of homemade vegetable broth is unbeatable. Not only can you add what you want and leave out what you don't want, but also the longer you let it all cook, the more concentrated the flavor you'll get.
Wash any visible dirt off the vegetables and chop them into large chunks. You don't even need to peel them first unless you really want to.
Instant Pot: If you've never made Instant Pot vegetable broth before, you're in luck because it's probably the easiest thing you'll ever make. Place all the ingredients in the Instant Pot — or any other electric pressure cooker like this — and add enough water, then manually set it to 15 minutes. Make sure your seal is in place, and the pressure valve closed. Allow the Instant Pot to depressurize naturally (do not use the quick release).
For a stovetop pressure cooker: Add the vegetables to the pressure cooker with enough water to cover all the ingredients. Turn the heat on high and bring the mixture to full pressure with the lid in place. Let it cook for 15 minutes and then release the pressure.
If using a stock pot: Place the vegetables and water into a large stock pot. Cover with a lid and bring the mixture to a rolling boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it boil gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour. However, don't cook for more than 1 ½ hours. Cooking the broth for too long causes the flavors to deteriorate and it can become bitter.
At this point, uncover the broth and allow it to cool a bit.
Strain the vegetables from the liquid. I use a fine-mesh strainer over a big bowl before dividing the vegetable broth into glass jars. Run the jars under hot water before using them to prevent cracking because of the broth's high temperature. If you're not using the broth immediately, let it come to room temperature before putting it into the fridge or freezer.
The vegetables will have lost much of their flavor and nutrients, so you can't use them like normally cooked veggies. Toss them in your compost pile and use them to grow more vegetables.
Tips and Tricks For Making Vegetable Broth At Home
1. Add cold, not warm or hot, water to the vegetables. Different flavors are extracted at different temperatures, so starting with cold water and slowly increasing it helps more flavors be extracted.
2. Store homemade vegetable broth in the fridge for up to one week or three months in the freezer. You can freeze the broth in ice cube molds or store it in glass mason jars. However, be sure to leave room for the liquid to expand, or the jar might break.
3. If possible, store your homemade veggie broth in freezer bags instead of containers as it thaws out much faster than when frozen in containers.
More Tips And Tricks...
4. Stay away from cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts as they can lend a bitter flavor to your broth. Zucchini and green beans can also become bitter when simmered for an extended period.
5. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and turnips will make your vegetable broth cloudy. For this reason, if you want a clear broth, you shouldn't use them.
6. If you are storing vegetable scraps in the freezer, make sure to get all the air out of the bag to avoid freezer burn.
7. For a rich and hearty broth, roast the veggies before using them. This intensifies the flavor of the vegetable broth and also deepens its color.
If You Enjoyed This Vegetable Broth Recipe…
Then try it out in some of my other recipes, like
My homemade lentil soup that is healthy, easy to make, and tastes fantastic.
This vegan corn chowder recipe from A Couple Cooks that has the perfect velvety texture and is full of flavor.
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