Broth is a savory liquid made of water in which bones, meat, fish, or vegetables have been simmered.[1] It can be eaten alone, but is most commonly used to prepare other dishes such as soups, gravies, and sauces.

Commercially prepared liquid broths are available, typically for chicken broth, beef broth, and vegetable broth. In North America dehydrated meat stock, in the form of tablets, is called a bouillon cube. Industrially produced bouillon cubes were commercialized by Maggi in 1908[2] and by Oxo in 1910. Using commercially prepared broths allows cooks to save time in the kitchen.

Stock versus broth

The difference between broth and stock is one of both cultural and colloquial terminology but certain definitions prevail. Stock is the liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a highly flavored liquid. This yields classic stock as made from beef, veal, chicken, fish and vegetables.[citation needed]

Broth differs in that it is a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavoring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain. It is often made more substantial by adding starches such as rice, barley or pulses.[citation needed]

Traditionally, broth contained some form of meat or fish; however, nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth.[3][4][5]

Many cooks and food writers use the terms broth and stock interchangeably, and even when distinctions are made, they often vary from person to person.[6][7][8][9] In 1974, James Beard wrote more emphatically that "they're all the same thing".[10]

However, a traditional distinction between stock and broth is that stocks are made primarily from animal bones, as opposed to meat, and therefore contain more gelatin, giving them a thicker texture.[8] Another distinction that is sometimes made is that stock is cooked longer than broth and therefore has a more intense flavor.[11] A third possible distinction is that stock is left unseasoned for use in other recipes, while broth is salted and otherwise seasoned and can be eaten alone.[12][13]

Bouillon is the French word for "broth", and is usually used as a synonym for it.[6][13]


Broth has been made for many years using the animal bones which, traditionally, are boiled in a cooking pot for long periods to extract the flavor and nutrients.[14] The bones may or may not have meat still on them.

Egg whites may be added during simmering when it is necessary to clarify (i.e., purify, or refine a broth for a cleaner presentation). The egg whites will coagulate, trapping sediment and turbidity into an easily strained mass. Not allowing the original preparation to boil will increase the clarity.

Roasted bones will add a rich flavor to the broth but also a dark color.

Cultural distinctions

In Britain, a broth is defined as a soup in which there are solid pieces of meat or fish, along with some vegetables. A broth is usually made with a stock or plain water as its base, with meat or fish added while being brought to a boil, and vegetables added later. Being a thin and watery soup, broth is frequently made more substantial by adding rice, barley or pulses.[15][16]

In East Asia (particularly Japan), a form of kelp called kombu is often used as the basis for broths (called dashi in Japanese).

In the Maldives the tuna broth known as garudiya is a basic food item, but it is not eaten as a soup in the general sense of the term.[17]

Scientific evidence for health benefits

By 2013, bone broth had become a popular health food trend, due to the resurgence in popularity of dietary fat over sugar, and interest in "functional foods" to which "culinary medicinals" such as turmeric and ginger could be added. Bone broth bars, bone broth home delivery services, and bone broth carts and freezer packs grew in popularity in the United States,[18] the fad heightened by the 2014 book Nourishing Broth, in which authors Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel state that the broth's nutrient density has a variety of health effects,[19][20] including boosting the immune system; improving joints, skin and hair due to collagen content; and promoting healthy teeth and bones due to calcium, magnesium and phosphorus levels.[21]

However, there is no scientific evidence to support many of the claims made for bone broth. For example, while bone broths do contain collagen, they do not relieve joint pain or improve skin, because dietary collagen is broken down into amino acids, which become building blocks for body tissues, and is not transported directly to joints or skin in the form in which it is ingested. In addition, the fact that the broth is derived from bone does not mean that therefore it will build bone or prevent osteoporosis, as the bones release very little calcium into the broth when prepared. Bone broths also do not improve digestion, as there is little evidence that the gelatin that they contain functions as a digestive aid. A few small studies have found some possible benefit for chicken broth, such as the clearing of nasal passages. Chicken soup may also reduce inflammation; however, this effect has not been confirmed in controlled studies of adults.[20][22]

See also


  1. ^ Rombauer, Irma S.; Marion Rombauer Becker; Ethan Becker (1997). Joy of Cooking. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020: Scribner. p. 42. ISBN 0-684-81870-1. 
  2. ^ "Maggi Bouillon Cubes". 
  3. ^ Spaull, Susan; Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (2003). Leith's Techniques Bible. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 38 Soho Square, London W1D 3 HB: Bloomsbury. p. 683. ISBN 0-7475-6046-3. 
  4. ^ Barham, Peter (2001). The Science of Cooking. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer. p. 127. ISBN 3-540-67466-7. 
  5. ^ Smith, Delia (1992). Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course. BBC Enterprises Ltd., Woodlands, 80 Wood Lane, London W12 0TT: BBC Books. p. 61. ISBN 0-563-36286-3. 
  6. ^ a b Wright, Clifford A. (2011). The Best Soups in the World. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0544177797. I use the terms 'broth' and 'stock' interchangeably, as do many people, although technically there is a very small difference—not important to the home cook....Some English-speaking writers make a distinction between broth and bouillon, but bouillon is simply the French word for broth. 
  7. ^ López-Alt, J. Kenji. "How To Make Great Vegan Soups". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2016-11-29. I don't really want to get into the muddy details of nomenclature between broth and stock...I use the words pretty much interchangeably, though I lean towards 'stock' if I mean something pretty rich that I'm gonna cook with and 'broth' if I mean something my noodles or peas are already floating in. 
  8. ^ a b Souder, Amy (April 10, 2016). "What's the Difference Between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth?". Chowhound. Retrieved 2016-11-29. Professional chefs and experienced cooks like us spout the broth and stock terms interchangeably. 
  9. ^ Ruhlman, Michael (2009). Ratio. Scribner. p. 241. ISBN 978-1-4165-6612-0. Anytime you add liquid to vegetables and meat and heat it, you're making stock whether or not you want to recognize it as such. 
  10. ^ Beard, James (2015). "A stock is a broth is a bouillon". The Armchair James Beard. Open Road Media. ISBN 9781504004558. The other morning my old friend Helen McCully called me at an early hour and said, 'Now that you're revising your fish book, for heaven's sake, define the difference between a stock, a broth and a bouillon. No book does.' The reason no book does is that they are all the same thing. A stock, which is also a broth or a bouillon, is basically some meat, game, poultry, or fish simmered in water with bones, seasonings, and vegetables. 
  11. ^ "Broth Basics". Martha Stewart. 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2016-11-30. 
  12. ^ Christensen, Emma. "What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth? — Word of Mouth". The Kitchn. Retrieved 2016-11-30. 
  13. ^ a b Davidson, Alan (2014). The Oxford Companion to Food (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780191040726. broth: a term which usually means the liquid in which meat has been cooked or a simple soup based thereon. It is a close equivalent to the French bouillon and the Italian brodo....It could be said that broth occupies an intermediate position between stock and soup. A broth...can be eaten as is, whereas a stock...would normally be consumed only as an ingredient in something more complex. 
  14. ^ Morell, Sally. "Broth is Beautiful". Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Spaull, Susan; Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (2003). Leith's Techniques Bible. London: Bloomsbury. p. 661. ISBN 0-7475-6046-3. 
  16. ^ Barham, Peter (2001). The Science of Cooking. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer. p. 127. ISBN 3-540-67466-7. 
  17. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom, Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5
  18. ^ Denn, Rebekah (2017-08-21). "Magic or mythic? Bone broth is at the center of a brewing cultural divide". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-08-31. 
  19. ^ Heid, Markham (January 6, 2016). "Science Can't Explain Why Everyone is Drinking Bone Broth". Time.
  20. ^ a b Blaszyk, Amy (February 10, 2015). "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here". NPR.
  21. ^ Simpson, Steph (2016-11-14). "What's All the Hype About Bone Broth?". Reader's Digest. 
  22. ^ "What's the scoop on bone soup?". Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. September 2015.

External links

  • Media related to Broths at Wikimedia Commons