Kitchen Confidence

How to Make Parmesan Broth + 6 Ways to Use It

By • May 13, 2014 • 26 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Turn your Parmesan rinds into a flavorful base for soups, stews, and risottos.

Parmesan Broth

A number of clever soup recipes -- like minestrone, for one -- ask you to toss a Parmesan rind into your broth as it simmers. It goes the way of a bay leaf, adding a nice bump to the soup's overall flavor but seeming, ultimately, like an afterthought. It mostly makes you feel better about using up your food scraps.

But those rinds have a huge amount of flavor tucked inside their hard, nubbly skin, and deserve to be at the forefront of your soups, your stews -- and your stock. If you're treating yourself to the good stuff -- and you should be -- turning your Parmesan rinds into a rich, cheesy broth is the best way to get the most bang out of your aged, funky, Italian buck. 

Here's how to make it:

After grating your prized Parmesan over pastas and salads, save your rinds in an airtight container or zip-top bag, either in the refigerator or freezer. Once you have roughly a cup of rinds, you're ready to go.

Parmesan Broth

First, make sure your rinds are clean: Rinse them, and trim off any moldy or iffy-looking bits. You can add rinds from other cheeses, too, to create your own gran cru of a broth. Just as your vegetable stock will change with the seasons, your Parmesan broth will change according to last week's recipes; cheddar and other hard cheeses work particularly well.

In a large pot, cover your rinds with plenty of water; a good rule of thumb is eight cups of water for every cup of rinds, but this is by no means a rigid formula. Anyways, a longer cooking time will always get you a deeper end result.

Parmesan Broth

If you'd like, you can add alliums and other stock-friendly vegetables here, like carrots and celery; the ladies from Cowgirl Creamery like to add mushrooms, too. But you'll still get rich flavor -- and a kitchen that smells, beautifully, like cheese -- if you use rinds and nothing else. Anyways, those alliums can always come later, sautéed as a base for your dinner. 

Bring the water to a boil, then simmer it for an hour or two, or until it's as flavorful as you like. Either use it immediately, or let it cool, and store it; it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, and in the freezer for three months. (If you freeze it, be sure to leave some room at the top of your container, as it will expand.)

Here are our six favorite ways to use Parmesan broth -- be sure to share yours in the comments!

1. Minestrone, plus any other vegetable-based soups or stews

2. Pots of beans. Parmesan broth goes especially well with white beans and greens, like escarole or kale.

3. Risotto, which turns into a nose-to-tail cheese dish after a handful of Parmesan is stirred in at the end.

4. Deglazing a pan, and then turning everything into a sexy little pan sauce (Go ahead, add some cream.)

5. Braising, from vegetables to chicken legs to short ribs

6. Stuffing or savory bread pudding, with plenty of fresh herbs

Tell us: How do you like to use up your Parmesan rinds?

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: how-to & DIY, broth, stock, Parmesan, Parmesan rinds, soup, stew, minestrone, risotto, cheese, scraps, italian

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Comments (26)

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9 months ago kathy

The recipes sound great. p.s. there is no such word as anyway's. It's anyway.

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12 months ago cucina di mammina

Denise, check with your local supermarket deli or italian deli. I have made friends with the manager and staff at both and at first they charged me a very small fee for a combination of rinds but now they save them for me at no cost. I love this as I get a variety of cheese rinds I can freeze and use to flavor many future dishes

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11 months ago Denise

Thank you! I will definitely check into it.

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11 months ago Marian Bull

Great tip!

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11 months ago cucina di mammina

Thanks Denise & Marian! I love to connect with purveyors, something I learned from my famiglia in Italy :)

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12 months ago Denise

Maybe a delicious, more healthy dip for artichokes? Substitute for liquids in cornbread recipes and savory muffin recipes, or in, oh my, bread recipes! Use instead of water or milk for scrambled eggs. I don't have the money for expensive cheeses. Do you think it would be possible to get the rinds from the deli at someplace like Fred Meyer or Safeway?

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12 months ago Nicole

This is a genius idea. I imagine that tiring the rinds in cheesecloth would help aid in easy pot cleanup? I'll have to try this, would be a great concotion to have on hand for deglazing pans. Thanks, Marian!
Nicole @ http://www.confectionalism...

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11 months ago Marian Bull

Yes, I've always thought that but been too absentminded to remember to try it out!

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12 months ago degustibus_dan

At 20 bucks a pound, my rinds do not have that much cheese left on them!

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12 months ago Mary Margaret Hudak

The rinds themselves have enough flavor in them to season dishes and/or a broth. Don't worry that there's not enough of the grating cheese to use as seasoning.

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12 months ago emcsull

what a great idea ! These lurk in my refrigerator, I forget them always, then they go bad.
I could just make the broth and even freeze it, don't you think ?

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12 months ago Marian Bull

Yes -- I have some in my freezer right now!

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12 months ago Judith Roud

Was going to make a vegetable stock this morning for a vegetarian risotto on the weekend. Since my guest isn't vegan, I'm going to toss some park rinds into the stockpot. Great idea. i usually only use it in meat based soups and stews, or tomato sauces. Genius idea. I keep them in the freezer all the time. Learned the trick when I worked in the cheese department at Whole Foods.

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12 months ago Barb

The rind often has a coating of wax. Should this be peeled off before submerging?

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12 months ago Judith Roud

Are you sure it's Parmigiano Reggiano rind? True Parmesan doesn't have a wax coating. It's the law in Italy that Reggiano is never waxed. If, however you have a c variety made elsewhere, I'd shave the wax off. Who wants petroleum products in their stock?

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12 months ago Marian Bull

Judith is right -- Parm shouldn't have a wax coating. If you are using a cheese with a wax coating, definitely remove it before making stock.

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12 months ago missfoodfairy

Looking forward to trying this next time I have some parmesan rind left over - especially for my minestrone! Great inspiration, thank you for sharing

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12 months ago Gaia Goodness Natural Foods

This is brilliant. I usually just throw the rind into a pot of pasta sauce, polenta, or stew, which I love but I'm going to give this a try too.

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12 months ago cucina di mammina

I have made stick or broth from cheese rinds as my Nonna and Mom have done since they learned to cook in Italy. The stock is remarkable and I use it in every season for so many dishes. Another great way to use the rinds is to throw one in when starting a risotto (at the butter/olive oil and onion sauté stage), truly delicious and so much flavor:)

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12 months ago Marian Bull

I'll have to try that risotto trick!

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12 months ago Diana B

Diana B is a trusted home cook.

Jacques Pepin's "fromage fort" is tough to beat for using up Parmesan rinds: http://www.foodandwine...

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12 months ago Abbey

I usually put them into a pot of something soupy or saucy to add extra flavor, generally when it's something with a chicken or veg stock base. Seems easier than making chicken stock, though, so maybe I'll give this a try!

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12 months ago payal76

I've tried this before and found that the rinds can stick to the bottom of the pot - making a goey, melty mess that's hard to clean. Any tips to avoid that?

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12 months ago Marian Bull

Soak immediately in hot soapy water, and scrub like the dickens!

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12 months ago Liz B. @ UMAMI LIFE

OMG! What?! I never thought cheese rinds could be a broth but this sounds fabulous! Will def try it out.

http://thatumamilife.wordpress... - a clean eating bento blog. Japanese or Asian-inspired!

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12 months ago Lavender

This is so handy and easy to make!