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Broth is a thin and clear liquid food, to which rice, barley, meat, bones, fish or vegetables may be added. Broth is also the term used for the water in which meat, fish or vegetables have been boiled. This liquid dish is used as a base for preparing other liquid foods like gravy, soup or sauce. It can be consumed as such or with rice, barley or oats, in which case it is called a soup. In Britain, the meaning of broth is a soup which contains solid pieces of meat or fish, and vegetables.

Traditional broth recipe always contained some meat or fish, but now purely vegetarian variants also fall under the category of broth. A common traditional broth recipe uses animal bones, with or without meat, boiled with water in a cooking pot to extract the flavor and nutrients. Stock is a more watery form of this dish which does not contain any meat pieces or grains in it. It is simply made by simmering vegetable scraps or bones in water, and sieving the resulting liquid.

Method of Preparation of Broth

Broth recipe uses stock or plain water as a base. The stock or water is heated till boiling point, and then meat or fish is added, and vegetables are added later. To add substance to the watery consistency of broth, rice, barley or pulses may be added. Sometimes egg white is used during broth preparation- it clarifies the broth and makes it more strainable. This happens because the egg white coagulates, and traps the sediment and turbidity of the broth in this process.

Popular Broth Recipes

Here are two of the popular broth recipes-

  • Chicken Broth Recipe For chicken broth recipe, bone-in chicken pieces, chopped onions, celery, carrots, basil and water are taken in a slow cooker and cooked on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. The resulting liquid is strained. The vegetables of the chicken broth recipe are discarded, while the meat, removed from the bones, can be added back to the liquid.
  • Vegetable Broth Recipe For vegetable broth recipe, onions, carrots, tomatoes and bell peppers, turnips are first tossed with olive oil. The vegetables are then placed in a roasting pan and placed in the oven at 230 degrees Celsius. They are stirred every 15 minutes. When the vegetables have browned and the onions begin to caramelize, which takes about an hour, the pan is removed from the oven. Leaves and tender inner parts of celery are removed and kept aside. Now the browned vegetables, celery, garlic, cloves, bay leaf, pepper corns, chopped parsley and water are poured into a large stock pot. The contents are brought to a boil, after which the heat is reduced and the mixture is allowed to simmer till the liquid reduces by half (it is cooked without lid). The resulting liquid is poured through a colander, and collected in a large bowl or pot. The broth can be used immediately or stored for future use. It can be used as a base for soups or gravies.

Broth Variations

  • Dashi is a Japanese version of broth made by heating water containing edible kelp and kezurikatsuo (shavings of preserved, fermented tuna) to near-boiling, and then sieving the resulting liquid.
  • Bouillon is a French version made by the simmering of mirepoix and aromatic herbs (usually a bouquet garni) with beef, veal, poultry bones, shrimp or vegetables in boiling water.

Health Benefits of Broth

Broth is a very healthy form of food, and contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, etc. Meat based broths contain rare and expensive compounds (namely Chondroition sulphates and flusosamine) which have medicinal properties for arthritis and joints pain. They are obtained by long periods of cooking of cartilages and tendons present in the meat. Gelatin, present in bones, thickens the broth on cooling. It contains essential amino acids in very large quantities. Gelatin also aids in digestion because of its ability to attract and hold digestive juices. The head, feet and hooves hold the maximum gelatin and hence make the most nutritious broth.