No matter how virtuous of a cook one is—whether it's always cooking beans from scratch, feeding a sourdough starter diligently, or taking care of an alien-esque SCOBY for home-brewed kombucha—everyone relies on store-bought broth at some point. (And in some cases, some of us prefer this route—see below.)
Store-bought broth can save you (and your soup!)—but not if said broth is tasteless, which can be the case with the packaged stuff. A sad-tasting timesaver is no saver at all.
If your store-bought broth tastes this side of "eh," don't fret: There are ways to make it richer, more complex, and, in other words, more homemade. Here are 10 simple tricks to try:
For each of these, except when noted, do the following: Place the broth in a saucepan, add one (or more!) of the items below, and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes:
1) A splash of white wine: You can use up to 1/4 cup. The alcohol will cook off and you'll be left with a well-rounded, pleasantly acidic broth.
2) Carrot, celery, and onion (a.k.a. the magical trio): Brown a chopped carrot, a stalk of celery, and an onion (you don't even have to peel it!) in some olive oil over medium heat, then add the stock.
3) A cheese rind: Use one from a hard cheese, like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
4) Miso: Ah, yes umami—our old, savory friend. Bring the broth to a simmer (make sure to use low-sodium, as miso is already salty), and whisk in 1/2 to 1 tablespoon miso. After adding the miso, the broth's ready to use. Be sure not to let it boil, as high heat tends to kill miso's aroma.
5) Soy sauce: Similar to miso, soy adds a salty, savory depth to broth. Again, use low-sodium broth in this case. A little soy sauce goes a long way (you don't want the broth to taste like soy sauce, just be enhanced by it), so add a dash and taste, after the broth has simmered, before adding more.
6) Dried mushrooms: Rinse a couple dried mushrooms—you can use whatever kind you like—under cold water to remove any excess grit, then add to the broth. Again, umami!
7) Herbs: A few sprigs parsley, rosemary, or thyme add a nice, earthy undertone.
8) Garlic: Garlic is garlic. You know what it does! One or two cloves (smashed and peeled or unpeeled) will do you here.
9) Tomato paste: Whisk in a few teaspoons to a tablespoon of tomato paste. This add-in isn't for every application, but if you're using the broth to cook rice or other grains, like quinoa, it adds a subtle, sweet-savory depth.
10) Surprise! Nothing! In lieu of adding anything, reduce the stock over medium-heat to concentrate its flavor. Stop reducing when, well, it tastes better.
Have a broth-enhancing tip? Tell us in the comments below!