Broth Basics

Photo: James Baigrie

Q: What is the difference between stock, broth, consomme, and bouillon?

A: Each of these terms refers to liquid that has been gently cooked with added meat, vegetables, or other ingredients. These terms are somewhat, but not completely, interchangeable.

Broth is the liquid that remains after meat, seafood, or vegetables have been cooked in water. It may be served alone or used as the base for a light soup.

Stock is more intense than broth, having been cooked slowly to extract as much flavor as possible from meat or fish bones and aromatics. A stock is used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as soups, stews, and sauces, rather than served alone.

Bouillon is often used synonymously with broth. The term also pertains to the condensed-cube and powder forms of broth, used to add a burst of flavor to some recipes. Court-bouillon typically refers to recipes calling for seafood. Because of the short cooking time required for fish and shellfish, court bouillon is also flavored with vegetables and aromatics, such as celery and carrots, before the main ingredient is added.

Consomme is a clear liquid that results from clarifying homemade stock. This is usually done with egg whites. (The cloudy particles in the stock attach themselves to the whites and rise to the surface, where they can be skimmed off.) The French word means "consumed" or "finished," referring to a more complete soup than a stock or a broth. Consomme is often served by itself, typically at the beginning of a meal.


Biba's Meat Broth

Chicken Broth with Shiitake Mushrooms and Broccoli

Clam Broth

Peter's Winter Squash, Fennel, and Leek Broth

Asian Broth with Poached Scallops, Shrimp, and Soba

Miso Soup with Tofu and Kale

Spinach Egg Broth

Eric's Court Bouillon

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