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Broth prepared from meat and vegetables
Beef broth being cooked

Broth is a savory liquid made of water in which bones, meat, or vegetables have been simmered.[1] It can be eaten alone, but it 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, fish 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 under the brand name Maggi in 1908,[2] and by Oxo in 1910. Using commercially prepared broths saves home and professional cooks time in the kitchen.

By 2013, broth labeled as "bone broth" became popularized as a health food trend or fad in certain parts of the United States. Generally broth doesn't have to have spices.

Stock versus broth

Many cooks and food writers use the terms broth and stock interchangeably.[3][4][5][6] In 1974, James Beard wrote emphatically that stock, broth, and bouillon "are all the same thing".[7]

While many draw a distinction between stock and broth, the details of the distinction often differ. One possibility is that stocks are made primarily from animal bones, as opposed to meat, and therefore contain more gelatin, giving them a thicker texture.[5] Another distinction that is sometimes made is that stock is cooked longer than broth and therefore has a more intense flavor.[8] 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.[9][10]

In Britain, "broth" can refer to a soup which includes solid pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables, whereas "stock" would refer to the purely liquid base.[11] Traditionally, according to this definition, broth contained some form of meat or fish; however, nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth.[12][13]

Bouillon (UK: /ˈbjɒ̃, ˈbw-/, US: /ˈbʊljɒn/;[14] French: [bujɔ̃]) is the French word for "broth", and is usually used as a synonym for it.[3][10]


In the late 18th century, Benjamin Thompson, (1753–1814) an American-born physicist in service to the Elector of Bavaria, invented and mass-produced a fully nutritious, solidified stock of bones, inexpensive meat by-products and other ingredients, using it to feed the Elector's army. His invention was the precursor of the bouillon cube.


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.[15] 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.

A clarified broth eaten as a soup is often called a consommé.

Cultural distinctions


In Japan, "clear broth soup" may be one way to describe the suimono [ja],[16] where hot clear broth is traditionally presented in a lacquer bowl, with a bite-size piece of seafood, chicken, tofu etc., and vegetable sunken or afloat in it.[17][18] The suimono is made from stock[17] (dashi[19])[a][19]) and flavored with salt and just a spoonful of soy sauce per batch.[20]

There is also the "noodle broth" (called kake-jiru or men tsuyu [ja] in Japanese) in which udon (wheat noodle) and soba (buckwheat noodles) are served; the noodle broth uses more soy sauce, and mirin as well.[21][22][23]

An ushio-jiru [ja] is fish broth, flavored with just a pinch of salt,[24][25] extracted from fish bones, fish head, etc. or shellfish.[26] A hamaguri ushio-jiru is a variant using clams.[24][27] An example of ushio-jiru uses tai or sea bream, and this dish is not just the liquid broth, but served with the fish head in it to be consumed, eye-ball and all.[28][29] The hamaguri ushio-jiru ("clam consommé") is also served with the meat of the clam in the clam shell.[30]

South Asia

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.[31]

Lack of 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, bone broth carts, and bone broth freezer packs grew in popularity in the United States.[32] The fad was 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:[33][34] 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.[35]

There is no scientific evidence to support many of the claims made for bone broth. 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.[34][36]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ The dashi usually includes the use of kombu, a form of kelp, and katsuobushi or bonito flakes.


  1. ^ Rombauer, Irma S.; Marion Rombauer Becker; Ethan Becker (1997). Joy of Cooking. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020: Scribner. pp. 42. ISBN 0-684-81870-1.
  2. ^ "Maggi Bouillon Cubes".
  3. ^ a b Wright, Clifford A. (2011). The Best Soups in the World. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0544177796. 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Landis, Denise (19 November 2012). "'What's the difference between stock and broth, and which do I use for dressing and gravy?'". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2018. Stock and broth are more or less the same thing, a mixture of any combination of meats (including poultry or seafood), bones, vegetables or herbs simmered in a large quantity of water, then strained.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Broth Basics". Martha Stewart. 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  9. ^ Christensen, Emma. "What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth? — Word of Mouth". The Kitchn. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Spaull, Susan; Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (2003). Leith's Techniques Bible. London: Bloomsbury. p. 661. ISBN 0-7475-6046-3.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Wells, John C. (2008-05-23). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Pearson Education ESL. ISBN 978-1405881180.
  15. ^ Morell, Sally. "Broth is Beautiful". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  16. ^ Butler, Stephanie E.; Kelly, Alexis C., eds. (2009). Japan. Fodor's Travel Publications. p. 352. ISBN 9784770030498.
  17. ^ a b Tsuji, Shizuo (2007). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Kodansha International. p. 151. ISBN 9784770030498.
  18. ^ Shurtleff, William; Aoyagi, Akiko (1975). The Book of Tofu: Food for Mankind. 1. Soyinfo Center. p. 151. ISBN 9784770030498.
  19. ^ a b Tsuji (2007), p. 153.
  20. ^ Tsuji (2007), p. 154.
  21. ^ Tsuji (2007), p. 310.
  22. ^ Shurtleff & Aoyagi (1975), p. 40.
  23. ^ Kobayashi, Katsuyo (2000). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Kodansha International. p. 93. ISBN 9784770025043.
  24. ^ a b Philpott, Don (2016). The World of Wine and Food: A Guide to Varieties, Tastes, History, and Pairings. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 389, 390. ISBN 978-1-4422-6804-3.
  25. ^ "cooking, Japanese". Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. 2. 1983. p. 22. ISBN 9780870116223.
  26. ^ Sakamoto, Yukari (2016). Food Sake Tokyo. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 389, 390. ISBN 978-1-4422-6804-3.
  27. ^ Tsuji, Shizuo; Hata, Kōichirō (1986). Practical Japanese Cooking: Easy and Elegant. 1. Kodansha International. p. 22. ISBN 9780870117626.
  28. ^ Perkins, Dorothy (1991). "SEA BREAM (tai)". Encyclopedia of Japan: Japanese History and Culture, from Abacus to Zori. Facts on File. pp. 389, 390.
  29. ^ Iso, Naomichi 磯直道 (2006). Edo no haikai ni miru gyoshoku bunka 江戸の俳諧にみる魚食文化. Seizando-Shoten. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4422-6804-3.
  30. ^ Tsuji (2007), p. 155.
  31. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom, Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Heid, Markham (January 6, 2016). "Science Can't Explain Why Everyone is Drinking Bone Broth". Time.
  34. ^ a b Blaszyk, Amy (February 10, 2015). "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here". NPR.
  35. ^ Simpson, Steph (2016-11-14). "What's All the Hype About Bone Broth?". Reader's Digest.
  36. ^ "What's the scoop on bone soup?". Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. September 2015.

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