Broth and Stock - A Review

I've been making broth for years. It's healthy and simple, both to make and to fit into our diet. It's nutrient dense, delicious and luckily for me, a favorite of my kids. They love soup, especially the brothy kind. (Last time I made a creamy chicken soup they actually said it was "too creamy" and "too cheesy" and asked if I could add more broth, whose children are these?). Lucy even picked one of my soup recipes as her favorite "birthday request" meal. Yes, my child asked for soup for her birthday! That's deep soup love. I mean, she could have asked for macaroni and cheese from a box. Because that's rare around here and beloved; much more than the homemade kind they normally get. But the point is my kids are weird and like soup. So when I saw Broth and Stock up for review, I jumped at the chance to fix that last 5% of my chicken stock problems, help me branch out to beef (and other?) broths and expand my soup skills.

As I said, I'm not new to broth making. I've had a lot of luck with chicken broth, having success outcomes probably 95% of the time. Its pretty hard to mess up. I make what this book refers to as Kitchen Scrap broth, the throw everything from leftover chicken bones to carrot tops and onion peels in there. It's not fancy but it works as a good all-purpose broth. Now, my beef broth - not so much. My beef broth just doesn't taste very good which makes me sad because we normally have a freezer full of grass fed beef just waiting to be made into lovely stock.

This is a pretty cookbook. And I don't normally buy pretty cookbooks because I don't use them. Maybe the pictures intimidate me? I don't know. My favorite cookbooks are very homemade/cottage industry in style and have no or very few pictures. But I've read the author's blog and knew she would have some good information, even if I'm weird and have trouble with the pretty pictures.

And she did. The first part of the book is a introduction to stocks and broths, their differences and uses and a few staple recipes. As I said, I've been making broth for a while but I found some good tips here so I was quite happy with that. I used those tips to make a Chicken Bone Broth and then used that broth to make her Chicken Soup with parmesan, rice, peas and lemon. Both the broth and the soup were delicious. I've heard of others making a cup of broth to drink in the morning and have pondered it for health reasons but never been able to stomach the idea of it but this bone broth tasted so mild that I could see doing that - and she's got a recipe for it. I didn't with this batch because I wanted to try her reduction method so I reduced and froze it instead. That worked well and I think it will be much easier to have homemade broth on hand whereas before it had been a bit of a feast and famine situation around here. But maybe I'll try reconstituting it and making a breakfast drink soon.

I still haven't been able to make beef broth because we are out of beef and aren't getting any until August but I'm excited to try and see if I can get a good batch now. And I didn't even know pork broth was a thing but she's got a recipe and I've got some pork in the freezer.

The second part of the book is more recipes, mostly for soup but also others that use broth. I really want to try the schmaltz mashed potatoes but my last batch of broth was low on schmaltz (fat) and gelatin. That always happens when I make broth from Costco rotisserie chickens.The broth tastes good but doesn't set the way I like. Despite her advice and the good results I'm sure it would produce, I cringe at the idea of adding chicken feet because I'd have to actually touch chicken feet at least chicken feet that aren't currently attached to our pet chickens. So I'll be making another batch soon with a home roasted chicken to try the Schmaltz. It looks delicious but not delicious enough to run my oven for hours when the heat index is 100+. (Update: I actually delayed posting this review because I wanted to try this recipe for y'all. So we had a bit of a cooler week, I got a chicken and roasted it and made broth just to try this recipe. Then we had the big power outage and the fridge got warm and I had to throw both the broth and the schmaltz away! I guess I am just not meant to be making it right now.)

As I said, it's a very pretty cookbook which for most people would probably be a good thing. But, despite being a decent cook, I see pretty pictures and get intimidated. Silly me. And a lot of these recipes are on the exotic side. That part that doesn't really intimidate me. I make (and the kids eat!) a lot of ethnic food and while Craig, who does most of the grocery shopping, likes to grumble about how I'm always putting weird, hard to locate food on the list, I think secretly he likes the grocery store challenge. Nourished Kitchen, the author's blog, focuses on healthy and wholesome cooking but this isn't a book of tofu and lentils, it's just real food. Think Salisbury steak made with broth and wine not condensed soup (that recipe is going to be the first I make when my beef arrives I think - it looks really yummy!).  She also has quiet a large seafood section, several chowders, a thai-style prawn soup and more. For my part, I know some of the recipes will be too much for me and I won't even try them but I'm hoping I'll give most of them a try and I think I'll be able to find more than a few "keepers."

And they certainly weren't all complicated or fancy. In this section, I tried the Carrot Leek Soup with Thyme. I've never heard of carrot soup but my kid's love carrots and soup so I thought I'd give it a try - big hit! The pot was licked clean. The baby got a few yummy carrot chunks dished out and cut up and seemed to appreciate them and Lucy even had seconds which is rare for her at dinner.  I did have to substitute chicken broth for her recommendation of sea vegetable broth because my Hashimoto's requires me to avoid high iodine foods but obviously it still turned out okay (and I used the frozen reduced stock and it was great. I'll be stocking up my freezer with that from now on instead of relying on cans so much!) It was super simple and quick to put together. I started it but actually went downstairs to exercise and left Craig with the recipe, three kids and instructions to finish the soup and make grilled cheese which he managed to do quite well. I've always got carrots on hand because I buy them in 10lb bags from Costco so this will be going in my dinner rotation for sure. I'm thinking I'll try the tomato and fennel recipe next as I'm still looking for a really great tomato soup recipe. I've tried several and they've been okay but I know I can do better.

To summarize, if you are just a beginner when it comes to broth but aren't scared of trying new things in the kitchen , I honestly think this would be overkill and all you really need is 20 minutes with google. And if your family isn't big into seafood/shellfish and lots of flavors from around the world or you want quick simple american style cooking (aka Rachel Ray or Ree Drummond), you might find yourself limited in the recipes you'll want to try. But if you want to try making broth but need some hand-holding or you're comfortable making a basic broth and want to take it to the next level; you enjoy cooking with more exotic ingredients or if you just like looking at beautiful food then check it out.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own. 

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