A Simple Vegetable Broth Instead of Stock

One of the mistakes I see many cooks making is automatically reaching for a can of chicken broth whenever a recipe calls for a bit of stock or a sauce needs an additional 1/3 cup of liquid. But the strong flavors of a broth—and the saltiness of canned broth in particular—can often change the flavor direction from where you want to go. And it’s an unnecessarily expensive and sometimes wasteful habit, if you only use a bit of the can and discard the rest. Instead, I encourage you to adopt one of my favorite thrifty kitchen practices: making your own simple vegetable broth when you are cooking, using it as a multi-purpose “moistening agent” for a host of dishes. Any combination of the following will give you a good broth: 



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

Dietary Considerationvegan, vegetarian

Taste and Texturelight, savory

Type of Dishstock


  • Chunks of onion, with peel
  • Trimmed leaves of leek or scallion, cut up
  • Chunks or peelings of carrot
  • Chunks or peelings of celery
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic with peel, smashed
  • Several sprigs and stems of parsley
  • Stalks and leaves of basil, oregano, marjoram, sage, or other herbs
  • Optional flavor enhancers:
  • Pinch of peperoncino
  • Strips of lemon peel


  1. All you need for this clean-flavored and cost-free liquid are a saucepan, a few cups of water, a cup or two of fresh vegetable pieces, and a few sprigs of herbs. Just rinse off all the flavorful trimmings from vegetables you are prepping, and throw them in the pot with water to cover by an inch or two, with a bit of salt and maybe a dash of olive oil. Cook ½ hour or more, until the liquid is reduced by a third and the flavor is extracted, then strain and use in sauces, roasts, a gratinate, or to steam vegetables. Put the remainder in the refrigerator or freezer so it’s there when you want it—and you won’t need that can of stock.


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