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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
    Meera
    January 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I love making stock from veggie scraps. I freeze left over in ice cube trays or small tubs for later use in soup, stews or even cook rice with it.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Freezing it in ice cube trays is a great idea!

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    January 9, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    How smart are you to freeze those scraps! I always say I’ll make chicken broth after I make a roast chicken and then I always forget. And good tip on the moldy carrots ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    January 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    you are brilliant. I even threw away onion skin tonight. I really never would have thought about freezing all that “trash” that I don’t cook with.

  • Reply
    Courtney
    January 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Can I hug you?! I throw these things away constantly. Going to be nice to stock the freezer or even have fresh vegetable broth ready in the fridge! Genius! ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus I actually buy organic veggie broth so I always have it in the house – who knew I had it all along – never wasting my organic produce scraps! Book marked and pinned!! Yeah, kinda excited ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      I used to buy the organic veggie broth too. The cost really adds up! I think you’ll really like making it yourself–it’s kind of fun collecting all those scraps. ๐Ÿ™‚ And it tastes amazing!

  • Reply
    lynn @ the actor's diet
    January 9, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    thank you kiersten for this tutotrial!

  • Reply
    AMitra
    January 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    What an amazing idea!! So much better than the vegetable broth with preservatives at the store! Totally going to try this. I LOVE VEGGIES

  • Reply
    Carly
    January 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Brilliant!

  • Reply
    Emily
    January 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Kiersten– why no Brussels sprouts? I’ve used them to make stock before and it’s turned out well. Any particular reason?

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Brussels sprouts can make a broth very bitter. Do you like steamed or boiled sprouts by any chance? If you do, that might be why you like stock made with brussels sprouts. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it’s one of those flavors that some people like, but a lot of people hate!

  • Reply
    Mary @ Fit and Fed
    January 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I make this too! I put leeks in mine as well as onions, some potato peelings, and two teaspoons of peppercorns. Otherwise our recipes are pretty similar. Except that I don’t freeze scraps to use later, I don’t think I’m organized enough for that. I DO, however, have some frozen vegetable stock for next time I want to make a good soup!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 14, 2013 at 10:41 am

      I never have potato peelings on hand because I always cook my potatoes with the skin on! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    January 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I love this! I just started doing this last year and I will not go back! I’ve always felt the same way as you about making broth with perfectly good veggies so this is perfect for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Aaron
    January 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    OMG!! Salvation!! I always WANT to make veggie broth/stock (and I am sure it is cheaper), but the few times I have made it the cash register starts ringing in my head thinking how much the veggies cost vs. buying. Using the scraps– utterly BRILLIANT!! I made stock last week, for the first time in a few years, to use as the base for some veggie split pea soup– was so good (the smell to die for) and thought “Ok, I really need to start doing this more” now with this idea I can!! And not feeling the pains of using perfectly good veggies!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

      And the best part is, this smells and tastes no different than the stock you make with whole vegetables. It’s just much cheaper. Win-win, right? ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    Brenda Williams
    January 15, 2013 at 12:48 am

    This is a great way to use all those scraps! You have the best ideas ever. Thanks for teaching me this trick.

  • Reply
    Viswa
    January 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I love how you made the peels and scraps beautiful in the photograph ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

      I was worried people would think they looked gross–ha! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Ginette
    January 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Great directions. Just thought I’d share that by putting your food scraps in a cheese cloth for simmering you can then easily discard them, strain the rest for stock, AND use those great carrots, celery, and onion in something else.
    No waste :0)

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      That is a great idea–thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Gail
    January 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    To think I’ve been putting my veggie scraps in the compost bin or feeding them to the dogs! Their loss is my gain! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Sally Cornaga
    February 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Kiersten,
    What do you think of adding soy sauce in lieu of the salt? I think it would much enhance the flavor.

    http://theproducesavant.blogspot.com/.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      February 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      I haven’t tried it myself, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work!

    • Reply
      Brenda Sitter
      May 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      don’t forget that Soy Sauce has wheat in it and if you are staying away from wheat, wheat free tamari sauce would be a better choice. My body feels so much better since taking wheat and sugar out of my diet. I have returned to my younger Brenda. Hallelujah! I’m a believer in Dr. Davis, Wheat Belly, program.

  • Reply
    Terra
    February 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Hi. Great way to reduce, I’ve been doing this for a few years now. I’m wondering why you specify to not use cruciferous vegetables? I’m really curious..I’ve been doing brocolli, etc. in mine. Is this just a flavor preference?

    Please let me know, thank you.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      February 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      I’ve read in a number of places that cruciferous vegetables shouldn’t be used in broths or stocks. Because of their sulfur content, they can impart a bitterness to broths. Since broccoli is milder than brussels sprouts, I think it would impact the flavor less, but I still try to steer clear of it. But if it works for you, there’s no reason to stop using it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    LindaJean
    February 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Another easy way to do this is put all of your frozen scraps in a crock pot and add some water and turn on LOW level and it will all be done when you return home from work and ready to use to make a delicious pot of soup.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      February 11, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Thank you for the tip–that’s a great idea!

  • Reply
    Miriam
    March 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    This is a great way to use up vegetables when you have no more freezer space:) I made mine with lots of celery leaves and stalks and some chilli and rosemary too. It smells spicy:) looking forward to using it as stock or in my risotto.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 11, 2013 at 10:18 am

      I hope it turned out well! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply
        Miriam Calleja
        March 11, 2013 at 10:21 am

        Yes – mine tasted predominantly of celery as I used a lot of it (sticks and leaves). I left out the carrot as I am not too fond (and follow a low sugar diet). Tried some of it to make a soup the next day and the flavour lingers on the palate.. fantastic. I will definitely keep making this.

  • Reply
    Leslie Edgar
    March 23, 2013 at 11:33 am

    How liberating!!! I no longer have to feel guilty about throwing away the veggie scraps, or wondering what I can do with them–yes, I know I could use them in a compost pile; maybe some day. Thanks for the advice!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Woo hoo! I always feel guilty about wasting things too, so I’m glad I could help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Ina Welker
    April 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    If you are a juicer, you can also use the discarded veggie scraps to make a stock or broth.
    It’s delish!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      April 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      I’m not a juicer yet, but I have been wanting to start. Thanks for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Ina Welker
    April 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    By discarded veggie scraps I mean the pulp that the juicer produces.

  • Reply
    Neeha
    April 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I tried out this after googling..I used up the celery leaves, cauliflower and mushroom stocks and some onion peels….The stock tastes so fresh and aromatic..This should make a gr8 difference to the couscous salad.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      April 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      I’m glad it turned out well–thanks for your comment!

  • Reply
    Mike "The Nrgizer"
    May 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    This would be the perfect addition to my brown rice. I can’t wait to try it…

  • Reply
    julie
    May 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Quick question….I always make my veggie stock from scratch and I love your tips! What is the deal about letting it cool first before putting in the refrigerator? Is this an old wives tale or is there a procedure to store it properly?
    thanks!
    Julie

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      May 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      It’s a food safety issue–if you put a big pot or container of broth in the refrigerator, it’ll warm up the food around it, which can cause bacteria to multiply. It’s best to either cool the broth first and then refrigerate or freeze it (the faster you can cool it the better, so putting the pot into a sink full of ice water is helpful!) or transfer it to several small, shallow containers, which will cool quickly and shouldn’t impact the temperature of everything else in the refrigerator.

      • Reply
        Julie
        May 17, 2013 at 7:26 am

        Thank you!

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