Broth soups range from the rustic to the refined. Regardless of the end product, however, the key to these soups is the same -- a well-balanced, flavorful base. The best broth soups have little to no fat floating in them and the flavors of the separate components mesh well, but remain distinct.
What's the Difference Between Stocks and Broths?
The main distinction between stocks and broths is that stocks are generally made only with bones while broths are made with meat. Stocks are often intended to be used in the preparation of other dishes whereas broths are meant to be eaten as is. Often, for an extra deep flavor, broths are made by cooking meat in stock, rather than just water. Of course, vegetable stock and even water can always be used as the base to broth soups, but the flavor is rarely as complex and deep as those made with some sort of meat base.
Types of Broth and Broth Based Soups
When it comes to the fundamentals of cooking, there are a few very important basic types of broths that are the basis of many classic dishes, soups, stews, and sauces. The following are the most important and well-known types of broths:
- Chicken Broth - Made with small chicken bones and meat (think of the size of chicken bones on a chicken carcass)
- Fish Broth - Made with the bones, skins, and meat of fish
- Beef Broth - This is a broth made with different beef meat sections to create different levels of richness and flavor
- Beef Bone Broth - This is the most traditional broth variation and is always made with beef bones
- Regional Cuisine Broth - The different variations of this could include Vietnamese style meat broth, French style broth, Italian style broth, etc. Most cultures have a variation of meat based broth that are made with other specific regional ingredients and spices
Practically every culture has its own version of a broth based soup ranging from the classic to rustic variations. Here are some of the most common types of broth-based soups:
- French Onion Soup
- Japanese Miso Soup
- Italian Minestrone
- Chinese Egg Drop Soup
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Classic Lentil Soup
- Vietnamese Pho
- Greek Avgolemono Soup
How to Make Homemade Broth
Yield: 2-3 quarts
- 3 - 4 lbs beef bones, meaty
- 2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
- 3 carrots, scraped, broken in several pieces
- 3 stalks celery, broken in several pieces
- 2 leeks, cleaned and cut into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled (More if you like)
- 1 sprig thyme
- 6 -8 peppercorns
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 whole cloves
Place the beef bones in a large heavy pot and cover with cold water just until they are covered by about two inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and skim the white bubbles and fat deposits (also known as scum) which rises to the top -- this should take about five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and more cold water so that everything is covered by at least an inch or two. Bring the stock to a simmer again, skimming as necessary. When the stock is simmering (Do not allow it to boil), partially cover and maintain at a very slow simmer for four to five hours. If the water level gets too low, add boiling water to the pot. Skim as necessary. When the vegetables and the bones have given everything to the broth, strain the broth and discard the solids. Set the stock, uncovered in the refrigerator until the fat has risen to the top and solidified. Remove and discard the fat. Taste the degreased stock (remembering it contains no salt) and if it is not strong enough, reduce it over medium heat. When the stock is cold, store in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer.