Soup Season is Here!

Grandma knew best.  A little chicken soup when you were under the weather did wonders.  There was no explanation.  It just tasted good, warmed you up, and comforted you. 

So, what is it about chicken soup, or any soup, that makes it so magical?  Well, first we need to understand what makes a soup, well, a soup.  A good soup starts with a good foundation.  Some call this foundation a stock.  Some call it a broth.  While many may use broth and stock interchangeably, they are, indeed, different.  Both involve water, vegetables, and aromatics.  Both involve several hours of simmering.  And both are used as building blocks in cooking.  It’s important to know the distinction between the two even though they sound similar!  A broth is made with meat and tends to be lighter and more subtle in taste.  A stock is made with bones, which are sometimes roasted, and deliver a deep, complex, and rich flavor. 

Just about all cuisines include some variation of a liquid culinary foundation used in which to build upon- The Japanese make dashi, using a combination of water, bonito, and seaweed.  In Chinese cuisine, a stock is made of chicken wings, backs, and feet, with the addition of ginger and scallion.  And for anyone who attended the Culinary Institute of America (C.I.A.) like me, who could forget Skills Class?  In that course, we filled stock kettles with gallons and gallons of water, bones, mirepoix, and aromatics to create rich, full flavored stocks. 

While branded commercial soup broths have dominated the grocery landscape for decades, various ‘gourmet’ broths from celebrity chefs have trickled in over the last few years.  Then, just as consumers were growing accustomed to seeing more than just their “go to” broth on the shelves, came the introduction of Bone Broth.  Sold as sippable stocks, and touting health benefits such as protein, improved digestion, reduced joint pain and inflammation, and even shiny hair, bone broth continues to gain momentum on grocery store shelves.  Small startup brands are capitalizing on this trend and gaining traction with their products among informed consumers.  More well-established soup brands have also noted this trend and launched their own both broth collections.

Bone Broth is also embraced as a staple by the paleo food community.  Paleo followers have praised the healing properties of bone broth, citing key attributes such as protein, collagen, glucosamine, and gelatin. 

Before the grocery shelves were inundated with bone broth facings, stocks were simmering on stoves in restaurant kitchens.  And these stocks are now making their way directly into coffee mugs and cups.  Marco Canora, chef of Hearth in NYC, opened the restaurant Brodo several years ago. Brodo, the Italian word for ‘broth’, sells one menu item - Bone broth.  Brodo serves their bone broth in paper coffee cups for easy sipping, at around $10, and offers interesting flavor combinations such as Seaweed Mushroom, or Tom Yum with chili oil, coconut milk, lime and curry.

So, if you’re feeling under the weather, or just need a quick pick me up or an easy lunch, grab a nice hot cup of bone broth.  And listen to grandma.  She knows best.

“Indeed, Stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” ~Auguste Escoffier