Soup

10 Simple Ways to Make Store-Bought Broth Feel a Bit More Homemade

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:

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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.

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Top Comment:
“Cheese rinds are pretty potent elements added to a mixture of generally more subtle flavours slowly building together... so it seems surprising that the newly ubiquitous rind tip everyone is sharing comes with no further information. Is the smell typical and simply unspoken? Does it need to stay in longer to mellow? Should the rind be smaller? (And if so, are images of stock with rind just using bigger rind for the photo's sake?) ”
— M
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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!

7 Comments

M October 13, 2016
Like wine, you can try adding vinegar. Same acidic effect when you don't have any booze handy!
 
M October 12, 2016
When I added a good parmesan cheese rind to my soup recently, it tasted good but smelled downright awful, which really hurt the enjoyment of the soup. I threw it in for maybe the last quarter of the cooking, and was so glad I hadn't put it in any earlier. <br /><br />Cheese rinds are pretty potent elements added to a mixture of generally more subtle flavours slowly building together... so it seems surprising that the newly ubiquitous rind tip everyone is sharing comes with no further information.<br /><br />Is the smell typical and simply unspoken? Does it need to stay in longer to mellow? Should the rind be smaller? (And if so, are images of stock with rind just using bigger rind for the photo's sake?) <br />
 
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Riddley G. October 12, 2016
Hmm, that's strange! I haven't ever experienced this problem when adding a rind to soup (and I almost away add it). The size of the rind in the image is about right, so it's not larger. You could make sure the rind has very little cheese on it (the cheese could've leeched into the soup, emitting more a smell). But, you could also perhaps just have a more sensitive nose than me!
 
M October 12, 2016
Thanks for your response.<br /><br />I'll have to try it again and see if it's a fluke. But it's definitely not nose sensitivity. It smelled quite strongly, a bit like ammonia, which is why I keep furrowing my brow over the ingredient. :)
 
Author Comment
Riddley G. October 12, 2016
That's definitely not typical! Perhaps trying a different cheese brand might help, too (maybe yours was just super potent!). Let me know what happens!
 
Josh October 12, 2016
For me what store bought stock is really missing is body. I like to add a couple envelopes of unflavoured gelatin to beef/chicken stock. I find it makes a huge difference to the finished product.
 
Author Comment
Riddley G. October 12, 2016
That's a great tip! I will try it. Thank you!