How to Add Complexity to Vegetable Broth

May  8, 2016

A good stock is the foundation of many meals—it's an essential in any cooking arsenal. Luckily, making one really couldn’t be any easier: simmer the dickens out of your ingredients, add a splash of wine if you’re feeling fancy, strain, cool, and store for a multitude of later uses. The best part? This method is extremely versatile and allows you to include countless combinations of kitchen scraps, seasonal produce, and herbs aplenty to build up layers of flavor.

Stock options. Photo by James Ransom

But as with any recipe that’s this open to interpretation, everybody seems to have their own ritual when it comes time to get cooking (while some people pass on it all together). Community member lloreen knows this, so she turned to the Hotline for suggestions on how to give her vegetable broth a bit more oomph.

So what do you think? Do you do as our Creative Director, Kristen Miglore, does and add some dried mushroom umami? Are parmesan rinds more your thing? Or maybe you're more likely​ to go for a (not)recipe?

Saved up onion skins, garlic skins, carrot peelings, a Parmesan rind and other random veggies - throw em in a big pot with lots of water. Simmer for a few hours and strain. Nothing better than homemade stock!

Continue the conversation on the Hotline post or tell us below in the comments!

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Sarah E Daniels

Written by: Sarah E Daniels

Will haggle for produce and/or pie.


702551 June 4, 2016
For sure, vegetable stock made with Parmesan rinds isn't vegetarian.

Parmesan cheese is made with rennet.
For us it totally depends on what we intend to use the stock for- if we're putting it in a strong soup or using it in Asian cooking, we'll often add dried mushrooms, soy sauce and ginger. If it's going to be used in Italian cooking, we throw in Parmesan rind, and either roast or thoroughly brown onion chunks before using them. We also use birds eye chillies (cut off the stems) in all of our stock, as we find it gives a bit of spice and oomph to it, regardless of what other flavours we use.
Sophie H. May 9, 2016
I find that the papery part of onion skins make my stock bitter. Any one else agree?
MRubenzahl May 9, 2016
The umami crew, to the rescue! Parm rinds, miso paste, soy sauce, mushrooms (especially dried shitaki or porcini), and (ready for this?) vegemite! Add these a little at a time and taste, taste, taste. Oh, and don't use salt because these are all salty.

And vegetable stock is not necessarily vegetarian -- if your diners are ok with meat then you can consider worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste, fish sauce.
Susie W. May 9, 2016
I roast the vegetables first and include dried mushrooms.
AntoniaJames May 9, 2016
Doenjang. (Less salt will be needed in the dish or soup in which it's used.) Doenjang provides wonderful, deep umami. It puzzles me why one rarely sees it used here on Food52. ;o)
Colleen S. May 8, 2016
toss in a green (or any flavor) tea bag or two
Taste O. May 8, 2016
Definitely in the parmesan rind camp.