Stock or broth

Catherine's picture

Is there a difference between stock and broth? I had an old relative that was a chef and this is how I learned the difference. It’s basically the same thing, except for one major difference; broth is a seasoned version of stock. My relative used to say that; broth is nice to drink on a cold winter’s day, stock in a bowl and you call for the chef.

He had learned the difference the hard way, when he was a young man and started out in a professional kitchen. He was supposed to fill a bowl with broth and add some garnish as a small warming welcoming soup for the guests, this was during WWII and the taste for fine dining was obviously a little different back then.

It started out great and the bowls where flying out from the kitchen; half way through the service the bowls started to fly back in. That’s when he used the wrong pot, the one with fresh made stock instead of the broth. He never told me exactly what the chef said to him; but he never ever forgot the difference between stock and broth.

Broth is spiced stock and it’s not just seasoned with salt and pepper. There are usually other spices like rosemary, thyme, cumin, nutmeg or allspice in broth and in some broth you find wine or even hard liquor. You use stock when you want to add substance and complexity to a dish, but you want to control the flavor. You use broth when you want to give a dish spiciness, substance and complexity. According to my relative it’s common in a professional kitchen that you use broth as a pre-flavored, time saving, base for soups and sauces so you don’t have to flavor the soup every time you make a new batch. As a chef he sometimes had four-five different broth in the kitchen in different flavors.

I rarely make my own stock, though I have found some nice stocks that I use as a base for broth. A really good broth and you can just drop a few slices of chicken in it and you have a great chicken soup.

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