I have a poorly kept secret: I am addicted to Better Than Bouillon.
Behold the drug that lurks in my refrigerator. But this variety is not alone. It has many friends. Choose your weapon. Insanely, some grocery stores don’t stock the full range of these miraculous jars of condensed flavorful goodness. If you can’t find a store that has the one you want, you can buy it online from their website.
The one thing all soups have in common is broth. There are a few ways to handle broth:
- Just simmer all your ingredients for a while and cross your fingers, hoping for them to extend enough flavor to their liquid. This can work if you have a lot of very flavorful ingredients, like onions, a ton of garlic, and punch-packing veggies like broccoli and carrots, and you’re generous with salt and spices… or if you just like bland soup. In general, though, it’s not ideal.
- Make your own stock, which is worth trying at least once (more on that later) but very inefficient for regular use. It takes at least an hour to cook, plus whatever chopping and peeling time beforehand and however long it takes to start boiling at all, and generates dishwashing tasks. It’s also a little disheartening to have to dump all the tuckered-out ingredients down the garbage disposal at the end (it’s no good to eat them; their flavor is all sucked out). And if you cook regularly at all, it’s gone long before you’ll be in the mood to make more.
- Buy prepared stock. This tends to taste really awful. If you find some that you like, more power to you; I’ve stopped running experiments with it after consistently making really lousy soup with this stuff.
- Buy some form of reduced stock, like bouillon cubes or Better than Bouillon, to reconstitute. Bouillon cubes don’t taste very good either, and it’s hard to use them if you don’t want to dissolve an entire one all at once – say if you’re just cooking one serving of soup, or want to add some flavor to a sauce. Better Than Bouillon, however, is delicious, and its paste consistency and jar packaging mean you can use a pea-sized amount or a great big heaping spoonful depending on what you’re making.
There are instructions on the jar for the recommended ratio of Better Than Bouillon to water. In true improvisational style, I advise you to mix up some according to the instructions. Once. Take note of the color, and let that be your guide in the future: for items that have a lot going for them in the flavor department already, aim for a lighter, clearer color and for dishes that will rely heavily on their broth, be a little more generous.
The Better than Bouillon website has some cooking ideas, but the short version is: Better Than Bouillon is great in everything. Apart from my heavy reliance on it in the soup department, I also put it in sauces, use it to make broth in which I cook couscous and TVP and other things that need to be boiled, and add a dab to random things like scrambled eggs that I want to jazz up. It’s great stuff.
Superior Touch is not paying me. I don’t think they know I exist. They just make a super product.