Italian

How to Make Parmesan Broth + 6 Ways to Use It

May 13, 2014

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

48 Comments

J August 1, 2018
Hi, SusanRos. When I used to make brodo before the Instant Pot, I always strained out everything left in the pot, especially since I put every type of cheese rind in there. The key is using cheap grocery-store cheesecloth, the type that is full of holes: that will keep everything you need and strain out everything you don't.
 
SusanRos July 31, 2018
So after a couple of hours of simmering, the rinds had disappeared but there were curd-y "blobs" of some cheesy something left at the bottom. "Blobs" might be giving them greater clumping quality than they had. Maybe "curdy-y residue" is more accurate. You keep those or strain them out?
 
J July 16, 2018
Forgot to add that I added water to cover the rinds and vegetables.
 
J July 16, 2018
I've been making cheese brodo for years, but recently tried it in my Instant Pot: first I sauteed onion and garlic in a little EVOO, then used 10 minutes LOW + 10 minutes natural release. Perfect! I was VERY thankful that I have a nonstick Instant Pot inner pot! Strain with 1 layer of cheap supermarket cheesecloth (the good cheesecloth is too fine). I freeze the brodo in 2-cup quantities and use in soups and mac & cheese.
 
Jane D. March 11, 2018
oops, got so carried away thinking about the rind bits, i forgot to mention that this sounds pretty good, too and will try it in things like polenta and risotto where the rinds might not be quite as welcome left in the pot.<br />[you need an "edit" function... ;-) ]
 
Jane D. March 11, 2018
i have always chopped my rinds into bite-sized pieces and tossed them into minestrone or marinara (eg) and then *left them in* for a chewy, cheesy bite in the soup or sauce. hubby (i call him "the cheese troll" cause he appears over my shoulder from out of nowhere when cheese comes out of the fridge...) loves the little gooey, cheesy bits of rind, flavored with the sauce.<br />as long as they remain in the liquid, they stay soft and chewy... and delicious!
 
Catherine S. March 8, 2018
Pop bite-sized pieces of rind in the microwave to make cheese puffs. Eat them warm though. They toughen up as they cool. My kids (and dog) love them.
 
HeidiN February 28, 2018
When the broth is finished reducing instead of straining the grit, has anyone put it through a blender? Or is it better to strain?
 
Fred R. February 28, 2018
What do you mean by “reducing?” The pasta takes up liquid, and I add that much water back when ready to use again. In my world there is no reduction of volume by boiling....reducing. No straining either, and to be told there is a lot of “junk” in the pot. Don’t make too much of all this, your just adding Parmesan rinds to boiling water. Good luck.
 
Kay D. October 21, 2017
I just toss a rind (or two, depending upon size) in whatever I want to have that flavor. Broth base, tomato sauce, escarole... I've never found the need to make a separate broth with them.
 
Fred R. January 10, 2017
And, the comment that it will last for three months in the freezer is nonsense. Mine, with water added each time to make up for the pasta uptake (and a few rinds here and there) must be going on 10 years in and out of the freezer. The liquid is somewhat mellow and delicious.
 
Charles J. April 10, 2017
fred! what do you do? defrost every time you make pasta and then re-freeze again?
 
Fred R. April 10, 2017
I do. Usually just take two one and a half quart containers out of the freezer, add water to make four quarts, and cook pasta. When refreezing, I don't add water if low, and just throw out if there is a little too much water. If I am lucky, I remember to take the containers out of the freezer in the morning, and, if not, well that's what microwaves were made for. Best.
 
Fred R. January 10, 2017
By the way, I buy my rinds at Whole Foods for $11./lb. Might sound expensive, but you only add water forever (well maybe a few more rinds now and then), but the pasta water is forever Zen (and rich with starch and Parmesan). Enjoy.
 
beejay45 February 24, 2018
Brilliant, the pasta starch water with Parm broth! I just cleaned out my fridge and found two wedges of Parm in the back that were totally dessicated, not grate-able at all. I'm going to try to break them up for this broth and use it for pasta. I'll have a huge supply! ;)
 
Sharon January 10, 2017
Used for Pasta Fagioli and it was wonderful!
 
bill January 8, 2017
Wonderful recipe and creative comments. Thanks to all.
 
Fred R. January 8, 2017
If you add about one teaspoon sodium citrate per gallon of water you will have almost no "rind grit" in the finished broth. I use this broth as pasta water....over, and over, and over again.
 
Carol H. February 9, 2016
I used the parmesan broth to make a heart warming tortellini soup! Top with fresh parsley and freshly grated parmesan.
 
Martina July 20, 2015
I have tried this recipe yesterday and now my broth is in the fridge waiting to be used for a creamy risotto! Thank you for this eco recipe! Martina <br />Here is my post: http://www.trattoriadamartina.com/2015/07/brodo-di-croste-di-parmigiano.html
 
Kate F. July 16, 2015
My daughter suggested French Onion Soup would be a good place to use this broth also.
 
Duane T. July 16, 2015
Once the broth is cooled it can also be used as a substitute for water in bread recipes.
 
kathy July 29, 2014
The recipes sound great. p.s. there is no such word as anyway's. It's anyway.
 
cucina D. May 16, 2014
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
 
Denise May 17, 2014
Thank you! I will definitely check into it.<br />
 
Author Comment
Marian B. May 17, 2014
Great tip!
 
cucina D. May 17, 2014
Thanks Denise & Marian! I love to connect with purveyors, something I learned from my famiglia in Italy :)