This is a staple in the vegetarian kitchen. Normally, I purchase it for convenience sake, but really it’s not difficult at all to make your own. You can control the seasonings and the sodium when you do so.
The brand I seek out is Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth. Many brands of vegetable broth are loaded with sodium or use yeast extractives or MSG to enhance their flavor. None of this is really necessary if you start with the right ingredients. This version from Pacific does.
However, if you have some time and the inclination you can make your own so easily. It’s definitely worth a try. Here’s my basic recipe. You can add almost any vegetable that you like, except for cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and so on), which are too intense for stock.
Stock freezes incredibly well, so if you’re taking the time to make it—and you have the freezer space—you might consider doubling this and freezing it in quart-sized zipper bags for future use. If you want to make it without any added oil just put all of the ingredients in a stock pot with the water and skip the first step.
Homemade Vegetable Stock
Makes 1 quart.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, unpeeled and chopped into large pieces
2 carrots, unpeeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, tops included, chopped
2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
1 parsnip, unpeeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
10 cups water
½ cup parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
several sprigs of fresh thyme
½ tsp whole peppercorns
½ tsp sea salt
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the onion, carrots, celery, leeks, parsnip, and garlic and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the water, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, and sea salt and simmer 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Pour the stock into a colander over a large bowl. Press down on the vegetables with a wooden spoon, extracting the last bit of juices. You should end up with about 4 cups of stock.