It is often quite hard for average home cooks to differentiate between such complex terms as beef consomme and beef broth.
What is the difference between beef broth and beef consomme? Beef broth is a simple liquid made by simmering beef and vegetables on low heat. Beef consomme, on the other hand, is the purified version of beef broth. It is richer in texture and beef flavor, and most, importantly, free of any impurities.
Read on if you want to add up to your culinary knowledge and learn all about the differences between beef broth and beef consomme.
What Is Beef Broth?
Beef broth is a liquid resulting from simmering meat, bones, or vegetables. Traditionally, the broth is made only of meat and bones (if you’re going to buy it, this one is by far my favorite). However, to add more flavor and richness to this savory liquid, vegetables are also added. One term that is used interchangeably with the term ‘broth’ is bouillon.
The staple vegetables for making broth are onions, celery, and carrots. You can also add parsley and peppers.
When making broth with animal bones and vegetables, all the nutrients are extracted from the ingredients.
There are many options for store-bought beef broth. However, nothing can beat a home-made one. While store-bought beef broth is easy to use and more convenient, the home-made broth is certainly more aromatic. Considering the fact that it does not require much effort to make beef broth, it is definitely worth doing it at home.
If you really want a shortcut, you can actually buy beef broth concentrates to keep on hand (I like this one from Amazon)
Beef broth is usually confused with stock. However, there is a difference between the two. Stock is made from simmering bones while the broth is made from simmering parts that still have some meat on them.
What Is Beef Broth Used for?
The beef broth has a variety of uses. It is quite easy to make at home. It may take hours to make beef broth, but once it is done, you will not regret it.
Beef broth is generally not used on its own. While the most widespread use for beef broth is making soups, this liquid ingredient has much more potential. It can be used to braise meats and vegetables, make comfort one-pot meals, such as stews and casseroles or even make a simple polenta taste richer.
What Is Beef Consomme?
The history of consomme dates back to medieval Europe. Initially, the consomme refereed to the technique and the process of cooking and was not yet the name of the actual dish.
As the years passed, consomme gained a reputation for a fancy dish that only the elite members of the society used to eat.
Nowadays, consomme is the term used in culinary for purified stock or broth. It is a clear amber liquid made from simmering cloudy stock or broth.
However, to purify these liquids, turn them into consomme, and most importantly, add richness and thickness to it, other ingredients are added. Egg whites and minced meat are the primary ingredients that act as a clarification raft for the broth.
The whole process of purifying the broth and turning it form a cloudy liquid into a beautiful translucent consomme is due to the egg whites that rise to the surface of the stock.
In other words, beef consomme is perfect beef broth, with more flavor and fewer impurities. No wonder that translated from French, the word ‘consomme’ means ‘perfect’ or ‘to make perfect or complete’.
How Is Beef Consomme Made?
Making consomme may be intimidating if you are doing it for the first time. The mere fact that egg whites are involved in the process may seem off-putting to many.
However, making beef consomme is not as difficult as it seems. You only need patience and a lot of practice. While you may spend hours on clarifying broth, the end result will be worth it.
There are not too many ways of making beef consomme. All recipes require egg whites, minced or ground beef, seasonings, and vegetables to your taste. You can add minced onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc. Additionally, you will need some beef broth or stock.
Here’s how to make beef consomme:
- The first thing you need to do is to separate egg whites from the yolks and whisk them by hand for a few seconds to aerate them.
- Then, mix minced vegetables and beef with the egg whites and add everything to the broth or stock you want to clarify. Do not forget to add seasonings, such as black pepper or bay leaf.
- Once the stock is simmering on low heat, keep stirring until its heats up to 120 °F.
- While the stock is simmering on low heat, egg whites and the small particles of vegetables and meat will clarify the stock by drawing out impurities and making it clear as glass.
- Let the stock simmer for an hour or so until clarified.
- Then, use a cheesecloth to strain the clarified liquid. This is how you get beef consomme out of beef broth or stock.
As always, I try to include a helpful video for you, and I think this 4-minute beef consomme tutorial by Jacob Burton on YouTube is the best one to watch!
How Do You Serve Beef Consomme?
As consomme considered to be a wholesome and separate dish on its own, it is usually served as an appetizer.
Consomme is also used to make soups and aspic, a savory jelly. The simplest dumplings served on a ‘bed’ of consomme turn into a restaurant-worthy dish.
What Is the Difference Between Beef Broth and Beef Consomme?
The key difference between beef broth and beef consommé lies in the fact that the latter is cooked by purifying beef stock or beef broth. Beef broth, on the other hand, is nothing but a brown and slightly cloudy liquid resulted in simmering some beef and vegetables (optional) on low heat.
Another key difference between the two liquids is consistency. Beef broth is thinner while beef consomme has a much thicker consistency. It is like a double broth but purified and richer.
As far as the beef flavor goes, beef broth has a very mild flavor, while in consomme the beef flavor is very strongly present. In other words, beef consomme is more concentrated.
You can easily differentiate beef broth from beef consomme by just looking at it. The beef broth has a light brown color. Beef consomme, on the other hand, is darker in color while being free of any impurities that may make it cloudy.
Beef broth and beef consomme also differ in the ways they are used in cooking. Consomme is such a refined and elegant dish that it can be served on its own, as an appetizer.
Beef broth is generally used to make soups, gravy and add richness to different dishes. Consomme can also be used in the preparation of various dishes. However, with so much effort and technique that goes into making the clearest consomme, it better be the star of the show.
Beef Consomme Vs Beef Broth: Nutritional Value
Both beef broth and beef consomme have some very beneficial nutrients.
Beef broth, compared to beef consomme, is lower in calories but higher in sodium. However, when used in the right amount, beef broth can have a positive impact on health, including reducing high blood pressure and heart disease risks.
As beef consomme is a more concentrated version of beef broth, it comes as no surprise that it is richer in potassium, iron, and calcium. Consomme is also higher in calories.
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Can You Substitute Beef Consomme for Condensed Beef Broth?
Condensed beef broth is much thicker and has a more pronounced beef flavor than regular beef broth. And we all know by now that one of the things that set beef consomme and beef broth apart is the thicker consistency and the richness of the flavor.
So, can condensed beef broth be substituted by beef consomme? Yes, it can. If you see the condensed beef stock in a recipe and you prefer fancy consomme over broths, then you can easily use consomme instead of using a store-bought condensed broth.
Beef Consomme Substitutes: Is Beef Broth an Option?
While beef consomme may be a dish on its own, you may come across it in different recipes. Being often used in stews and casseroles, soups, and many other side dishes, you may come across this ingredient in various recipes.
But what can you do if you do not have beef consomme at home? The ideal variant would be taking beef stock or broth and turning it into an amber liquid. However, with all the egg whites and minced or ground beef involved, making beef consomme is a time-consuming process.
The best alternatives to beef consomme are beef stock and beef broth. Keep in mind that the final dish is not likely to taste exactly as it would with a consomme, as the latter is much richer in flavor.
For those practicing a plant-based diet, mushroom consomme is the way to go. Mushroom consomme will provide the same umami flavor as the beef one would.
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