Vegan broths

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.

2 thoughts on “Vegetable broth – tips for buying and making your own

  1. Using scraps reminds me of my Italian parents way of making broth and one I have adopted as well. Last year a friend gave me a broth recipe from Dr. Mark Hymen’s book, The Ultra Simple Diet. Because it is touted to fight inflammation in the body, I made it for my husband who is fighting myeloma, an immunological blood disease, a form of cancer. Drinking this delicious broth twice a day is recommended. It has lots of cancer fighting ingredients. I also use this broth to braise veggies, flavor soups also. I make enough to fill about 9 quart jars and freeze what I am not using
    Broth from Dr. Mark Hymen’s book: THE ULTRA SIMPLE DIET (takes 1 hour prep; 1-2 hours cook, 1 hour to strain – I tri[le the recipe )
    I often cook it after dinner. Leave covered on stove and strain in the morning.

    For every 3 quarts of water, add 1 large chopped onion, 2 sliced carrots, 1 cup of daikon, or white radish root,
    1 cup of winter squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes,
    1 cup of root vegetable: tips, parsnips and rutabagas for sweetness,
    2 cups of chopped greens: kale, parsley, beet greens, collard greens, chard, etc,
    2 celery stalks, 1/2 cup seaweed: nori, pulse, wakame, kelp or kombu,
    1/2 cup cabbage, 4 1/2 inch slices of ginger, 2 cloves of whole garlic, Sea salt to taste. If available, 1 cup fresh or dried shiitake or maitake mushrooms for their immune-boosting properties.
    Don’t forget to add your collection of veggie scraps.

    Add all ingredients at once. Place on a low boil for 1-2 hours. Boil to taste. Cool. Then Strain in a cone shaped colander or fine strainer and smooth broth out of the cooked veggies. Discard veggies. Enjoy the broth.
    Makes approximately 8 cups or 2 quarts.


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