Once you understand the basic formula for making broth at home, you’ll start seeing potential soup everywhere in your kitchen. Those onion tops you were going to throw away? Save them for broth. The picked-clean bones of that rotisserie chicken? Absolutely save for broth. Past its prime parsley? Say it with us: Save! For! Broth!
There’s truly no downside to making broth at home. Throwing cooking scraps into a pot reduces food waste and rewards the cook with a comforting bowl of soup. All you need to get started is this basic formula: Broth = bones + vegetables + seasonings + water
That’s it! If you combine bones, vegetables, seasonings, and water in a large pot and set it over heat for a few hours, we guarantee that you will end up with broth. The flavor and texture are determined by what you add.
Homemade Broth Ingredients
Animal bones bring flavor, fat, and texture to the pot. The most commonly used bones are chicken and beef, but there’s no reason you couldn’t throw a ham hock into the mix. You can use either raw or roasted bones. Raw bones will provide a more pure meat flavor, while roasted bones (eg: from a rotisserie chicken), will yield a richer flavor and darker colored final product.
You can buy bones from a butcher and use them for broth, but it’s extremely rewarding to make a broth using the bones leftover from another homemade meal. If you’re not ready to cook again right away, just store them in the freezer until you’re in the mood for soup.
Many broths start with a mirepoix—a classic mixture of carrots, celery and onion—but the vegetable additions don’t have to end there. Broth can include any other veggie scraps you may have. Things like leeks, garlic skins, shallots, and mushrooms all add delicious flavor. Some vegetarian broths add squash or sweet potatoes. These will add flavor, and the starch will provide some texture as well.
Herbs & seasonings
This is where you can customize and have a little fun. Whole spices like peppercorns can be added as soon as you add the water. Delicate herbs like parsley and thyme should be added closer to the end of the cooking time.
If you know what you want to make with your broth, you can customize the flavor to suit the dish. For a minestrone or an Italian-inspired braise, consider adding thyme and red pepper flakes. For Asian-inspired dishes, try adding a stick of cinnamon or some star anise.
To cook, add your bones, vegetables, and seasonings to a large pot and fill 3/4 of the way with cold water. Bring the pot a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat so that the mixture is just simmering, and cook for several hours. Aim for about 4 hours for chicken broth and 8 hours for beef, but don’t be afraid to let it go all day. The longer it simmers the more collagen will be extracted from the bones. Collagen makes your broth thicker.
You can mostly leave the broth unattended while it simmers, but check in occasionally to skim the fat off the top with a spoon. After you’re done cooking, turn off the heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any impurities.
How to Make Vegetarian Broth
If you’d like to make vegetarian broth, you can still follow this formula, just don’t add the bones. Double down on adding more of your favorite vegetables and spices for a flavorful finished product. Cover with water and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.
That’s it.Your homemade broth can keep in the fridge for 2-4 days. You can drink on its own, use it for homemade soups and stews, try it as a braising liquid, or use it as a base for flavorful sauces.