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How to Make Vegetable Broth (With Kitchen Scraps!)

How To Make Vegetable Broth

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 + CarrotsOnions (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 this Thai Red Curry Soup), 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–no cabbage, no broccoli, no cauliflower, and for the love of all things holy, no brussels sprouts–because they can leave bitter flavors in your broth. 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.

Print

Basic Vegetable Broth

Vegetable Broth Recipe

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.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: about 6 cups of broth

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 8 cups 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 the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the water, frozen vegetable scraps, bay leaves, parsley, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat-proof bowl or pot; discard solids. One the broth has cooled, transfer it to airtight plastic containers or freezer bags and store it in the freezer. (I usually freeze it in 2-cup portions so I don’t have to thaw all the broth every time I use it.)

This post was originally published on January 8, 2013.

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202 Comments

  • Reply
    Molly McMahon
    March 10, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Should it be brought to a boil before the heat is turned to low? Looking forward to making this!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      March 10, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Yup, you’ll want to bring it to a boil first. I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    John
    March 18, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I just made this and my wife brought up a good point… Normally you peel things so you don’t have to scrub and wash them to remove the dirt/pesticides/etc. Shouldn’t you be concerned about pesticide residue in the broth after cooking?

    • Reply
      Alissa
      March 19, 2017 at 10:56 am

      I would give everything a good cleaning before adding it to the broth, and if you’re still concerned you could stick with organic produce.

  • Reply
    Anita
    March 20, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    When making vegetable stock, do most of the nutrients from the veggies leach into the stock so that it would have the same nutritional value (minus the fiber) as if you’d left the veggies in? Thank you for this.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      March 21, 2017 at 10:02 am

      Hi Anita! I would think some do, but I doubt all of the nutrients end up in the broth. I can’t say for sure though!

  • Reply
    kathleen
    March 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Start with cold water to deglaze the onions and aromatics. Try for a 2 parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery for a balanced flavor. Do not boil, you want slight simmer of bubbles around the edge of the pot. boiling will tear apart the fibers and make your broth more cloudy and do not stir during the simmer process. I always strin in colander and then strain a second time in fine mesh sieve. Happy eating.

    • Reply
      Chesca Barnett
      April 6, 2018 at 6:56 am

      Thank you for this information!!!

  • Reply
    O du viet nhat
    April 1, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    thanks you so much

  • Reply
    marcia raymond
    April 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    is it bad to use kohlrabi for vegetable broth ?

    • Reply
      JAMcD
      February 16, 2018 at 10:50 pm

      Kohlrabi is part of the brassica family – and she suggests avoiding all of those – brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, rutabaga, collard greens, turnip, cabbage and most mustards.
      I missed that, and currently am brewing a batch with sprout cuts in it – here’s hoping it isn’t wrecked…

  • Reply
    Julie Gardner
    May 9, 2017 at 3:02 am

    Can I put all this into a slow cooker if so for how long

    • Reply
      Alissa
      May 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I think it would work in a slow cooker. I’d have to guess at the time, but I’d say around 4 hours on high, or about 8 on low.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    May 25, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Has anyone ever used corn cobs for this broth recipe? I”m wondering if corn milk released would make the broth cloudy and therefore not suitable….

  • Reply
    Katelyn
    June 1, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I cannot tell you how much this tip has helped me. I always keep a broth veggie bag in the freezer now. Thank you so much. This is such a money saver.

  • Reply
    Sambal Tumpang
    July 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Should choose fresh vegetables, but I really like your idea.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    August 21, 2017 at 9:55 am

    What a great idea….keeping scraps in the freezer. I have never even thought about this until I saw a soup recipe that called for homemade vegetable stock, did a search for it and found your site. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Carla
    September 10, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    making this now using scraps I saved in freezer for like a month – I think I have too many veggies, but we’ll see. Do you think this would work using the veggie “pulp”from my juicer? If I just make veggie juice – with carrots, celery, beets, kale or other greens?

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 11, 2017 at 7:52 am

      I think that would work!

  • Reply
    Vicki Stevenson
    September 24, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Rather than straining this can I just zap it with the blender and enjoy????? Apologies in advance if thats a daft question!!

  • Reply
    Rhae Redekop
    October 9, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    My broth separated when I thawed it (particles/sediment vs liquid) . Is it still ok to use?

    • Reply
      Preston
      October 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Yes, it should still be okay to use, but if it smells spoiled it’s best to play it safe and throw it away. Assuming there is no odor, you can run your broth through a fine sieve to remove any unwanted sediment.

  • Reply
    Ruth
    October 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    What if the majority of my scraps are tomato and cucumber and various fruits? Like when I make myself a huge salad, can those scraps be used as well?

    • Reply
      Preston
      October 16, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Ruth! While there’s no rule against it, typically tomatoes and other fruits are avoided because those flavors often clash with those of the scraps. Also, due to the high sugar content in many fruits, there’s also an increased risk of the broth spoiling prematurely.

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    October 25, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    This is a really great idea! I’ve been wanting to make homemade veggie stock for a while, but thought it was a huge process. Now that I know that it’s not, I’m totally going to try it.
    How long should this last in the freezer?
    A tip for some people worried about using scraps for there broth, I put scraps in the food processor, and mix it in with my dogs’ food. They love it!

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      October 26, 2017 at 6:36 am

      Hi Tiffany! Frozen broth should last you about three months in the freezer, so you’ll have plenty of time to use it up!

  • Reply
    Old Texan
    February 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    I rate the overall recipe 5 stars. I’m making it now.
    Having worked in the production, distribution and use of vegetables, there is no way I will use peelings. Fruits and vegetables may have been subjected to
    insecticide (even on organic, after leaving the field), bodily fluids and may be washed with dirty water. I can remember when, in South Texas, the dirt was washed off in the irrigation ditches. Fruits and vegetables that I am going to eat raw, I wash in a mild soap and bleach solution. Do you think workers in third world countries adhere to US food practices? If you can’t stand to throw out peels, compost them and put around your plants, houseplants or yard and garden plants.

  • Reply
    Camilla
    March 31, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I have looked for a good Vegetable Broth recipe, even using scraps, but they just didn’t compare to this one. I am sharing it along with the adjustments I made with my family and friends. Thank you for very helpful tips!

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