Homemade Vegetable Broth

If you want to follow a more plant-based diet, try using vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth in soup, risotto and other dishes. 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 scary ingredients. Homemade tastes great and is guaranteed to be healthy. This is one foundational ingredient you need to make from scratch – and its 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

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.

Vegetable Basket Closeup

Homemade Vegetable Broth

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.

Yield: about 3 1/2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Helpful Links

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.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Madonna January 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm

I love homemade broth. Even without a pressure cooker one hour investment is well worth it. I am trying to multitask with a pot simmering on the stove while I fix lunch.

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2 Mary@SiftingFocus January 13, 2013 at 11:50 pm

I have always wanted to make homemade vegetable broth. Thanks for the inspiration Sally. Also, thank you for the recommendation on pressure cookers. I’ve never owned one but have always wanted one. I might just have to treat myself!

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3 Sally January 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

Mary, a pressure cooker is a must have if you like to cook! Nice for soups, stews, broths, and many dishes. The 8 quart is really a good size to start with. I have a 10 qt and a small 4 qt but use the 8 qt the most. Plus you can use it like a regular pot without the lid. Amazon has a good price and the link in the post goes there. On cookbooks, Jill Nussinow and Lorna Sass are two big authors on pressure cooking. You can download Jill’s book electronically. And check out http://www.hippressurecooking.com. Lauras entire blog is about pressure cooking.

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4 Debbie Burgess January 14, 2013 at 6:39 am

Sally, this is such a timely post because I’ve been contemplating making vegetable broth to add to my supply of home made poultry stock (chicken, turkey and pheasant). Have you ever roasted your veggies to the caramelized stage before proceeding with this recipe? I’m wondering if that would increase the flavor and create a darker product, more like stock than broth. I hadn’t thought to do this in the pc, but what a time saver that will be! By the way, I can all my broth/stock and that is such a convenient way to store and use it.

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5 Sally January 14, 2013 at 9:29 am

Hi Deb. I’ve thought about roasting the vegetables to see if it increases the flavor but have not yet tried it. Using the pressure cooker seems to yield a pretty richly colored broth considering its all vegetables. The only thing with veg broth is that because there are no bones, you don’t get the nice gelatinous body that you get from a bone broth. You can yours? That’s great. I just freeze mine. Although sometimes I wish I had a bigger freezer!If you roast your vegetables please let me know how it comes out. I’ll try that next time too, but it does add time.

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6 Dawn January 16, 2013 at 4:22 am

how do you can your broth?

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7 Sally January 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

Hi Dawn, I don’t can mine, I just freeze it. Easier, as I use it often. Freeze it in whatever quantities work for you. You can use a muffin tin, then pop the cubes out when they are frozen and put them in a zip bag for small portions. Or freeze them in larger containers. I often use 2-3 cup portions in the OXO BPA-free containers. Some people freeze broth in quart zip bags and lay them flat. My issue with that is sometimes they get a nick in them and can leak when defrosting, unless you place the bag in a bowl or on a rimmed try for safety.

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8 Debra January 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

On step 2. did you mean low pressure or high pressure?

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9 Sally January 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I do it all on high pressure Deb. Please let me know how it comes out for you.

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10 Erin @ The Speckled Palate January 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm

This broth looks and sounds fabulous, and I’m going to have to add it to my broth rotation, as I need to brew up some veggie broth in the near future. I’ve never worked with a pressure cooker before, and I don’t currently have one… but now, I’m intrigued. Might see if I can find one I can test this out on!

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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11 Sally January 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Erin, you can use a pressure cooker for lots of great things! You can even make cheesecake and desserts in them. Awesome cheesecake (for a splurge). There’s a post under desserts. I could never do without my pressure cookers! Once you get one and start playing with them, I’ll bet you will feel the same.

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12 Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum January 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Wow – those photos are amazing. I need to try this – I use vegetable broth in tons of dishes!

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13 Jessica January 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Love your photos and recipe for a healthy broth. Thanks for sharing!

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14 Lisa @ The Cooking Bride January 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I just started cooking with a pressure cooker this past summer. I make a lot of my own chicken broth and I LOVE using my pressure cooker. It saves so much time and the broth has such a rich flavor.

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15 Sally January 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Agreed Lisa! Once you get a pressure cooker you’re hooked! Then you might like a few other PC recipes I have. The French Market Soup, the chicken rice soup, the beef and carrot stew (if you eat beef), and have you tried cheesecake yet? Nice for a splurge and so fast! Recipe under dessert category. Enjoy your pressure cooker!

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16 Debbie Burgess January 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Sally, I made your vegetable broth tonight after roasting the vegetables at 375 for about an hour, just until they started to caramelize. I’ll definitely be making this again. It is absolutely delicious! There are so many different flavors playing together, and the only thing I can think of to improve upon what I made would be to not forget the fennel the next time. :-) I’ll be canning this in the morning and enjoying it for weeks to come. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

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17 Sally January 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Great to know Deb! I’ll definitely try that next time. Thanks much for reporting back. And I agree, the fennel is really nice.

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18 Katherine March 5, 2013 at 11:50 am

I’m completely new to making my own vegetable stock, is there any way to make it similar to this but without a pressure cooker? Thank you!!! And,…. I do LOVE your blog!

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19 Sally March 5, 2013 at 11:56 am

Hi Katherine. Thanks for the kind words! A pressure cooker just speeds things up. You can make it without one by just simmering the vegetables for an hour, or until the broth is a nice deep golden color. You may find that a pressure cooker is worth investing in. Really, I love mine and could not live without them. There are many great recipes you can make with one! They are not expensive, and you can use them without the pressure capability just like a regular pot.One more thing you can do to add flavor )just take more time) is to first roast your vegetables in the oven at 350 until browned and caramelized, then simmer to make broth. Please let me know what you do.

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20 Tonia August 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I have a Elite electric presure cooker. I’m very new at cooking with it. Do you cook this the same was as a stove top presure cooker?

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21 Sally August 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

Hi Tonia. I have never used an electric pressure cooker. Mine are all stove top models. Check out the blog hippressurecooking for great recipes and info on pressure cooking. Laura is an expert, and she just released a new cookbook too.

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