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How to make Homemade Vegetable Broth

Raise your hand if you make your own vegetable soup broth. It’s so dang easy to open a carton—right? It’s hard to beat the convenience of dissolving a cube of concentrated vegetables in hot water–in just seconds you’ve got the beginnings of a delicious soup. Well, this month let’s step out of the cube, or box, or jar, and learn how to make homemade vegetable broth.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

What’s the motivation? Blame it on October Unprocessed. A pledge to go a whole month and not eat any processed food will get you checking the labels on store-bought veggie broth.

Oh dear—what’s the word maltodextrin doing on the box? What the hey–even at a natural food chain store one can’t assume—we’ve got to read labels before unconsciously popping groceries into the cart. Ask yourself if your grandmother would recognize the ingredient or could you make it in a home kitchen?

ingredients for Homemade Vegetable Broth

It’s confession time. Until now, I’d never made my own vegetable broth. In culinary school we learned to make from-scratch meat and chicken broth, but I can’t remember vegetarian broth being in the lesson plan. I’ve always used bean broth or a high quality concentrated broth mix for soup.

veggies ready for pot for Homemade Vegetable Broth

From coarsely chopping the vegetables to pouring the golden caramel liquid into jars, homemade vegetable broth takes not much more than an hour to make, including browning the aromatics, the leeks, carrots, onions, and celery, before adding the water. It’s worth the effort, if only for the inviting aroma of simmering broth wafting through the kitchen.

simmering veggies for Homemade Vegetable Broth

It’s not that all store-bought veggie broths are highly processed–we certainly don’t have to swear off packaged broths that help get soup on the table faster. Many brands pass the October Unprocessed “kitchen test”, meaning the ingredients listed are foods that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

This month let’s make homemade vegetable broth. It could become a habit. We can go back to quick and easy store-bought in November. 😉

Jars of Homemade Vegetable Broth

How to make Homemade Vegetable Broth recipe notes:

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Homemade Vegetable Broth
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How to make Homemade Vegetable Broth
Ingredients
  • 2 leeks , trimmed, coarsely chopped and well-washed
  • 5 carrots (about 1 #) scrubbed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions , chopped (OK to leave skins on)
  • 2 stalks celery , including leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Thick peel of 1 scrubbed organic potato (see note)
  • Cloves of one bulb of garlic , skins on, smashed
  • 1 whole guajillo chile , optional (see note)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley , coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Real Salt
  • 3 quarts cold water
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large wide pot over medium-high flame and sauté the leeks, carrots, onions, and celery, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are well browned.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and the water to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered for about 45 minutes.
  3. Place a colander over a bowl and strain the broth. Discard the vegetables. (see note)
  4. Line the colander with cheesecloth or a paper towel (or use a fine sieve), and strain a second time.
  5. Store the broth in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Recipe Notes
  • Save the potato (covered with water) for another purpose, perhaps a soup made with this broth.
  • Mild guajillo chiles add color and unique flavor; one chile in 3 quarts of water contributes no discernable heat. If not using a chile, add another ½ teaspoon black peppercorns.
  • Don’t let the broth sit with the “spent” vegetables—they’ve done their job—strain right away.
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