If you want to follow a more plant-based diet, try using homemade vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth in soup, risotto and other recipes. Homemade vegetable broth can also be used instead of water when cooking rice or quinoa to provide more flavor. Store brands taste pretty bad and have terrible ingredients. Homemade tastes great and is guaranteed to be healthy. This is one foundational ingredient you need to make from scratch, and its so easy.
Homemade Vegetable Broth: The Healthiest Option
At the store you’ll find vegetable broth in boxes, cans, cubes, pastes and powders. Unlike chicken broth, which you can find decent tasting store brands to use in a pinch, vegetable broths can taste metallic, musty, sour, salty, and not even like vegetables.
Read the Label on Store Brands
Read the label on store brands and you may be shocked by ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, sugar, high sodium levels, dextrose, yeast extract, hydrolyzed soy protein, and flavor-enhancing food additives such as disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, MSG and mystery flavorings. In some brands there are hardly any real vegetables.
In fact, Cooks Illustrated reports that “vegetable broths tend to be made from the ugly ducklings of the produce world—vegetables that, while not spoiled, are unsuitable for sale as whole vegetables or vegetable parts”. CI goes on to say that some broths are not even made from fresh vegetables, but use powdered vegetable content.
Worse yet, there’s no way to tell from the label whether the list of ingredients came from fresh produce or from concentrates or powders. The label might read like whole vegetables were used, but don’t be fooled. It might really be vegetable extracts, concentrates, or powders. No thanks. Make homemade.
Easy to Make at Home: Simmer or Pressure Cooker
The good news is that homemade vegetable broth is easy to make and can be done in no time. If you go the traditional method of simmering on the stovetop, it will take about an hour in the pot. Not too bad – but there is a faster way. Use a pressure cooker.
For speedy vegetable broth, it takes just 7 minutes at high pressure. The broth is a rich golden color with pure vegetable flavor. This quick broth can be used immediately, or cooled, then refrigerated or frozen.
Make your own vegetable broth. The flavor and versatility is wonderful! And like I’ve said before – get a pressure cooker! A good size is an 8 quart, which is what I use for this recipe. You should not fill a pressure cooker more than 2/3 full. If you have a smaller pressure cooker, like a 6 quart, you will need to reduce this recipe. Comment or email me with any questions.
About Pressure Cookers and Cookbooks
I love Fagor pressure cookers. I have three! They are available on Amazon at a good price. An 8 quart Fagor pressure cooker is a good choice to start and very versatile. It’s the size I use the most.
If you are new to pressure cooking, pick up a cookbook for ideas. Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass is a good one for omnivore’s. Another good one is The New Fast Food by the Veggie Queen Jill Nussinow. Her book is focused on healthy plant-based meals with vegetables, grains, and beans.
Homemade vegetable broth beats anything from the store hands down, in terms of not only taste, but nutrition. For speed, use a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simmer this about an hour then strain and cool. For the leeks and fennel, just use the top portion and save the white part and bottoms for your regular cooking. Make thrifty use of something you might normally discard.
- 3 quarts (2.8 liters) water
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
- 1 head garlic, cut in half across the center
- 8 ounces (226 grams) fresh mushrooms, rinsed and cut in quarters
- 4 large carrots (about 14 ounces or 400 grams), scrubbed clean and roughly chopped
- green tops from 2 leeks (save the bottoms to cook with or use 1 whole leek)
- 3 ribs celery ( 6 ounces or 185 grams)
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 small bunch fresh parsley
- 1/2 small bunch fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried black peppercorns
- the top stalks of one small fennel bulb, chopped rough (optional)
- In an 8 quart pressure cooker, add the water and all ingredients, tomatoes through fennel stalks (if using). Lock the pressure cooker lid on and bring to high pressure. When the pot gets to high pressure, turn heat down to low and time for 7 minutes. The pressure gauge should stay up. If not, increase the heat just a tiny bit and watch that the gauge stays up. This may vary by range or cooktop.
- After 7 minutes at high pressure, remove the pot from the heat and allow the pot to sit until the pressure drops naturally. If it has not dropped in 20 minutes, release any pressure naturally by placing the pot under cold running water until it releases. Remove the lid, being careful to position the lid away from your face, and open the pot. Use broth right away or cool to store or freeze.
- Notes on Cooling: If cooling to refrigerate or freeze, strain the broth through a fine sieve into a large bowl or a large clean pot. Place in a sink or larger bowl filled with cold water and ice. Stir to cool and release the heat. When you can stick your finger in it and it feels cool, refrigerate until totally cold. It should be 70° (21 C) or lower. If freezing, portion broth into containers and freeze, noting the quantity, date and name of the broth with masking tape and a sharpie.