Vegetable Broth Base

MAKES about 1¾ cups base, or about 1¾ gallons broth  (FAST) (VEG)

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Our vegetable broth base delivers on both great flavor and convenience. The broth bases found on supermarket shelves promise an economical alternative to liquid broth, but they usually offer harsh, overwhelming flavors. To make a vegetable concentrate that would pack bold but balanced flavor, we started with a classic mirepoix of onion, carrots, and celery. However, the celery gave the broth a bitter flavor, and the onion was too pungent. We swapped in celery root and leeks, which lent similar but milder flavors. Some parsley added a fresh, herbal note. To amp up the savory flavor and give the broth more depth and complexity, we added dried onion and tomato paste. A hefty dose of salt ensured that the broth was well seasoned and kept the base from freezing solid, so we could store it in the freezer for months and easily remove a tablespoon at a time without having to thaw the container. For the best balance of flavors, measure the prepped vegetables by weight. Kosher salt aids in grinding the vegetables.

  • 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped and washed thoroughly (2½
  • cups)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (⅔ cup)
  • ½ small celery root, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (¾ cup)
  • ½ cup (½ ounce) fresh parsley leaves and thin stems
  • 3 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
  1. Process leeks, carrots, celery root, parsley, dried minced onion, and salt in food processor, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl frequently, until paste is as fine as possible, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomato paste and process for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl every 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to airtight container and tap firmly on counter to remove air bubbles. Press small piece of parchment paper flush against surface of mixture and cover tightly. Freeze for up to 6 months.
  2. TO MAKE 1 CUP BROTH Stir 1 tablespoon fresh or frozen broth base into 1 cup boiling water. If particle-free broth is desired, let broth steep for 5 minutes, then strain through fine-mesh strainer.

Buying Broth

Even though homemade broths taste better (see here), the reality is that the majority of home cooks rely on supermarket broth for most recipes. When selecting store-bought broth, it’s important to choose wisely since what you use can have a big impact on your final dish. We prefer chicken broth to beef broth and vegetable broth for its stronger, cleaner flavor, though all have their place in our recipes.

CHICKEN BROTH: We like chicken broths with short ingredient lists that include a relatively high percentage of meat-based protein and flavor boosting vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. We also like a lower sodium content—less than 700 milligrams per serving. Our favorite is Swanson Chicken Stock.

VEGETABLE BROTH: We’ve found that the top brands of vegetable broth have a hefty amount of salt and enough vegetable content to be listed on the ingredient list. Because store-bought vegetable broths tend to be sweet, we often mix vegetable broth with chicken broth for the best flavor. Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Flavored Broth Base & Seasoning is almost as good as our Vegetable Broth Base.

BEEF BROTH: We’ve found the best beef broths have concentrated beef stock and flavorenhancing ingredients such as tomato paste and yeast extract near the top of their ingredient lists. Our favorite brand is Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.

CLAM JUICE: Bottled clam juice conveniently brings a bright and mineral-y flavor to seafood dishes. Our favorite, Bar Harbor Clam Juice, comes from the shores of clam country in Maine.