stew & soup recipes: what’s the difference between stock and broth?
Walking to our local farmers’ market is one of my favorite Saturday morning chores during the spring and summer. It is a joy to meet our local growers and purchase their produce. Even when I don’t need too much produce I still go. I can’t resist and at times I almost take it for granted that each week there will be a plethora of fruits and vegetables available.
Today I am reminded to be grateful for the luxury of the farmers’ market. On May 11, 1934 a massive storm swept through America sending over 350 million tons of soil into the air. Over two days high level winds blew topsoil from the Great Plains to the east coast.
The dust storm did not just happen out of the blue. Since the pioneers began settling the Great Plains farmers cleared the land that was once covered in prairie grass which served to protect the soil from eroding during dust storms. In the early 1900’s wheat production increased due to WWI. More and more grassland disappeared. By 1931 wheat production had increased to the point of flooding the market, causing prices to drop. The Great Depression was about to become even more intolerable.
In 1931 the Great Plains experienced a drought that dried out crops and the soil. As a result dust storms increase in frequency and the strength of the storms also began to rise over the next few years. By 1934 the Great Plains were stripped of protection, creating the perfect conditions for a severe dust storm.
In 1935 huge dust storm wreaked havoc on the Great Plains, causing a reporter named Robert Geiger to coin the term the “Dust Bowl”. As farmers and their families were forced to leave their farms and homes in order to find work the land became desolate. Relief would not come to the region until the tremendously long drought ended in 1939.
Thinking of these poor farmers and their families who had to leave their homes, many without employment for years makes me ever so grateful for what I am able to purchase at the farmers’ market. I stand on line to pay for a basket full of delicious fruits and vegetables. Those hit hardest during the Great Depression, many the farmers, would have to stand in soup lines to feed their family. I doubt that the soup served to the masses were full of the nutrients of the soup I will prepare with the vegetables I carry home in my basket.
One of the things I love to cook with is vegetable stock. I find vegetable stock to add more depth to a dish than beef or chicken stock, which are fantastic and needed for particular recipes, but I love the richness of flavor that a vegetable stock lends to a dish.
A question was asked of me when I was talking about vegetable stock. What is the difference between stock and broth? There is very little difference. Stocks are made to be used in recipes whereas broths are made to be served alone. When making a beef or chicken stock the primary flavor comes from bones while broths are made using meat. The broth is richer in flavor and fat making it heavier than stock. As for fish and vegetable stock there is no difference from broth as they are made using the same types of ingredients.
Try this recipe for vegetable stock/broth. You can use it immediately or you can freeze small portions (in an ice cube tray, for example) so that you can use it in future recipes. Vary the recipe based on what vegetables and seasonings you have available. My vegetable broth is different every time based on what I’ve purchased and what I have that needs to be used.
1 gallon cold water
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium leek (white and green parts), rinsed and chopped
1 medium rib celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
½ medium turnip, chopped
½ small tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried thyme
3-4 fresh parsley stems
3-4 whole black peppercorns
1 whole clove
1. Make a sachet d’epices by tying the thyme, peppercorns, clove, parsley stems and bay leaf into a piece of cheesecloth.
2. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
3. Lower the heat; add all the vegetables and sweat, with the lid on until the onions are softened and slightly translucent.
4. Add the water and the sachet bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes.
5. Strain, cool and refrigerate.