How to Make Vegetable Broth (With Kitchen Scraps!)

How To Make Vegetable Broth with Kitchen Scraps
Making vegetable broth is one of those things that’s really easy to do, but I bet most of us don’t do it. Or, at least, don’t do it often. I use vegetable broth in a lot of my recipes, but I’ll be honest, I often use store-bought broth. But I shouldn’t because making your own vegetable broth is so, so easy. And you know what else? It tastes so much better too.

Unlike meat-based broths, there’s no skimming off fat or any of that ickiness. You don’t need to keep the pot on the stove for hours either. But it does require a little bit of advance planning. It also requires these three things:

Onions + Celery + Carrots Onions (or a member of the onion family–leeks or shallots work too), celery, and carrots. That’s your starting point, but from there, you can tailor your broth to what you’re going to be using it for. Add sprigs of thyme and parsley to make a cooking liquid for rice and other grains. If you’re going to be using the broth as a base for an Asian-inspired soup (like the Thai Red Curry Soup I posted yesterday!), try adding fresh ginger and lemongrass.

Bag of Vegetable Scraps
Now, back to that thing I said about advance planning! You can buy whatever you want for your broth, chop it all up, and put it in your stockpot, but I’m cheap and it kills my soul a little to think about throwing away all those perfectly good veggies. It’s bad enough I have to throw away the onions, celery, and carrots! So instead of buying what I need, I collect scraps in a freezer bag and when I have a few cups worth, I use them to make broth. Here’s what I used in this particular batch:

Frozen Scraps for Vegetable Broth
But really, you can use so many different things. You do want to stay away from cruciferous veggies, though–no cabbage, no broccoli, no cauliflower, and for the love of all things holy, no brussels sprouts. Make sure everything you use is clean too–you don’t want to make dirt soup! And remember, there’s a difference between things you don’t want to eat vs. things you shouldn’t eat. Clean carrot peel is fine in a broth or stock; a moldy carrot is not.

Vegetable Broth Made with Kitchen Scraps
Oh, and speaking of stock! Have you ever wondered the difference between vegetable broth and stock? Broth is seasoned, while stock is not. So this recipe can be used for both vegetable broth or stock. To make stock, skip adding salt and pepper at the end.

Basic Vegetable Broth

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: about 6 cups of broth

Basic Vegetable Broth

Don't throw away those vegetable scraps! Use them to make your own delicious vegetable broth instead. It's easy and it's so much cheaper than buying broth at the grocery store.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 8 c. water
  • frozen vegetable scraps (2-3 cups is a good amount)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of parsley and thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste (omit these if you're making stock)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until softened (about 5 minutes), stirring often. Add water, frozen vegetable scraps, bay leaves, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot; discard solids.
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Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies. She loves cooking, trashy reality shows, and Hello Kitty. Kiersten also blogs about blogging at kierstenfrase.com.   Read more from Kiersten →

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Comments

  1. Ana says

    Great idea! Just one question: How long can you leave the left over veggies in the freezer? Will they not spoil?
    Thank you

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Since they’re frozen, you can leave them in the freezer for quite a while. You’re discarding them after you make the broth anyway, so you don’t have to worry about the texture being off or anything like that. I’ve kept my scraps in the fridge for about 3 months.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Some people have reported that they use them without having any issues, but any cruciferous veggies have the potential to add bitterness to the broth.

  2. Nancy Mcbride says

    I am curious as to why there is no mention of potatoes peelings for veggie stock or broths?
    I have always thought they added a thickness to the stock/broth.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,I am eager to start my stock.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      You can use almost any veggie scraps to make broth–in the picture, I just photographed what I used for this particular batch. I usually don’t have potato peelings to add because I rarely peel my potatoes!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I wouldn’t keep it in the fridge for more than 2-3 days. If you need it to last longer than that, I’d just freeze it. In general, I prefer freezing my broth to refrigerating it.

  3. NJ says

    Thank you for pointing out that you can keep the scraps in the freezer! What I have been doing up to now is keeping a container with the water left from steaming or simmering veggies, adding to it each time. When I get a few quarts, I use them for the base of bean-or-other soups. Adding the veggie bits will make it so much more tasty (strained BEFORE adding the beans, off course!

  4. NBMaggie says

    Since selling my little cottage with its garden and compost heap and moving into an apt. that does not recycle compostables, I’ve set aside my veg scraps and made my own stock as a way to compensate. IMO it’s a matter of balance whether or not you add cabbage or other cruciferous veg. Too much upsets the ratio but a few leftover bits does no harm. Corn cobs also make a great addition…so do sweet potato peels…..

  5. Vera says

    I save EVERY bit of remnants from veggies that I cup up – EVERYTHING! I just keeping adding the remnants to freezer bags and once I have 2-3 full bags, it is time to make stock! NEVER waste ANYTHING – it will always come to good use.

  6. amy lynne says

    Thank you so much for the great ideas. A friend of mine told me this could be done but I didn’t have the instructions so my one attempt wasn’t great.

  7. Katherine says

    So excited to try this idea! I’m always looking for ways to waste less.

    I’m a little confused, though, when you said to saute the onions, carrots etc before putting the water and frozen scraps in–did you buy new onions, carrots etc for that part or did you saute the scraps you had from those particular vegetables? Thanks!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      You need whole carrots and onions to make the broth, not just scraps. I’ve heard some people just boil the scraps, but I think the flavor is better if you saut√© the carrots, onions, and celery first.

  8. Margaret Kelly says

    Thank you so much for this! Now I have an excellent use for all the vegetable scraps that I would have just thrown away.

  9. Deb Schwartz says

    Why do you throw away the onions, carrots, celery, and any other non-scrap veggies used to make the stock when they can be “recycled” back into the soup you make from the stock?

    • Kiersten Frase says

      It would be difficult to separate them from the scraps (although putting the scraps in a cheesecloth would help) and I usually make big batches of broth to freeze them rather than making soup with them right away, but you can definitely do that if you like!

  10. Wendy says

    Love this and the mushroom stock too. Now that I’m a mom, I find that I really want to make everything on my own rather than trust what’s packaged and in cans. Thanks!

  11. hande says

    Thank you for the recipe. I have a question which may sound strange:
    I prepared the broth a few days ago and because I wasnt going to use it right away, I put it in the freezer.
    Just a moment ago, I saw that the broth in the ice cube thing has changed its colour to purple! Is this something normal? Or did I do something wrong and ruined the broth?
    Btw, I used onions, carrots, leeks, parsley stems, celery, black pepper and some coriander seeds

  12. Terry says

    I usually have spring mix salad greens and spinach that are about to go bad. I usually juice these but can I use them in my broth? Also, could kale stems be used as well?

    Thanks

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I haven’t tried using greens in broth myself, so I’m not sure how it would work out. Since kale is cruciferous, the stems may impart a bitter flavor, so I’d leave them out.

  13. Mirry says

    I purchased some bags of frozen stir fry veg but it is not good in a stir fry as it goes very limp and soggy, I guess because it was frozen. instead of wasting these, can I use these to make the stock?

  14. Ellen T. says

    I just finished making this and it smells SO good. Its a very hot day outside (91 in the shade at 11am), but I wanted to clean out my freezer so I’ve got the BIG pot out on the side burner of my barbecue, so no heating up my house! I’m about to strain the broth into jars for the freezer, put the limp veggie remnants on my compost pile, and then start a fresh freezer bag for veggie ends to be ready to start it all again!

  15. Lisa says

    Have you ever added the green leaves from the top of carrots to stock? I make chicken stock by simmering bones for 24 hours, and would like to add in the carrot tops.

  16. Hoyt says

    Thank you for the great tips on getting use out of veggie scraps. I happened to read the mushroom stock and veg stock recipes consecutively. I noticed the cooking times and approach are a little different and am wondering why. The mushroom stock recipe says simmer 45 mins partially covered then 30 more mins uncovered while the veg stock recipe does not include the final 30 mins. I know the additional time will thicken the stock, but why do it for the mushroom stock and not the veggie stock?

    • Kiersten Frase says

      You can simmer the vegetable stock longer if you like. :) I simmer the mushroom stock for an extra 30 minutes to concentrate the flavor; I don’t think it’s as necessary for vegetable broth.

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