« Sambar powder (Recipe: pan-seared ahi with mango) | Main | A more perfect pantry? »

Beef broth (Recipe: hot and sour soup)


Whenever Kim and Nick and Sabina and Ramona, my favorite vegetarians, come for a visit, I run to the pantry to purge all of the carnivorous contraband.

(Well, okay, not everything. Not the stuff in the freezer, the meat sauce and beef stew and turkey hot dogs and the fish my friend Bob caught last summer, hiding in the back behind the veggie-friendly organic pizza and tofu pups.)

This time, the only no-no items I found on the pantry shelves were "stock" items: chicken and beef broth.

(Confused about the terms stock and broth? So was I. Generally, stock is made from bones and trimmings; broth is made with actual pieces of meat, which yields a richer flavor. Stock and broth can be used interchangeably in most home cooking.)

I love making chicken stock, especially with the leftover carcass of a roasted chicken, but for some reason I've never warmed to the process of making beef stock. It's not hard to do; roast some bones and root veggies in the oven until they are well browned, then add to a stock pot with a bay leaf and peppercorns and water to cover, and simmer for a couple of hours, skimming any fat that rises to the surface. Remove the solids, bring the liquid to a boil, and reduce by half. Voila -- beef stock.

Easy, and yet I seldom make it, because for me it's easier to keep good quality, low-sodium or salt-free canned broth on the pantry shelf, ready and waiting to become the basis for Oriental pot roast, Texas roadhouse chili, beef bourguignon, pho, or good old lentil soup. Most of the time, I combine beef broth with chicken stock or broth, for a deeper flavor that isn't entirely beefy.

Hot and sour soup

Not typical in any way, this soup adapted from Jae Chung, owner of Jae's Café in Boston, is colorful and delicious and as spicy as you wish — a perfect lunch or dinner in the cold winter months. It's even great for breakfast. Serves 2.


1 cup chicken broth, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
1 cup beef broth, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
3/4 cup diced vegetables: onions, green and red pepper, fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tomato, diced
1 giant shrimp, minced
1 giant scallop, minced
1 tsp chili paste with garlic (or more to taste)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp oyster sauce mixed with 1-1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
4 Tbsp cornstarch solution (1 part cornstarch diluted in 3 parts water)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup firm tofu, cut into large cubes
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp chopped scallion


In a wok or large sauté pan over highest heat, bring stock to a boil. Add vegetables and chopped tomato, and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add shrimp, scallop, chili paste, garlic, oyster sauce mixture, fish sauce, and soy, and simmer for 3 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar, and continue to simmer another 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch solution until fully incorporated. Drizzle in the beaten egg — do not stir, but allow the egg to set lightly into long strands. Then, at the last moment, add in the tofu, stir to combine, and add the sesame oil on top. Serve hot, garnished with chopped scallion.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Tom yom koong
Faux pho
Slow-cooked beef and green chile stew
Zuni corn soup
Homemade French onion soup

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I may have only done beef stock once. That was when I made French Onion Soup out of Thomas Keller's book. I'm not a big meat lover and beef is not on my list of favorite things. Still that beef stock was really spectacular and I should do it again.
Must mean I'm just lazy, when the recipe calls for beef stock or broth, I use canned!

Good for a nice cold day! Thanks!

Merry Christmas!


sounds like the perfect thing to have after a week of solid overeating. cheers!

I have always been a big fan of the canned/boxed broth and have found them to be great time savers.
However, since I purchased a pressure cooker, I have been making my own chicken broth and vegetable stock at home, and it has made all the difference.
In a crunch, or if I'm out of homemade broth/stock in the freezer, the boxed/canned broths are fine.

Lydia--Thanks for explaining the difference between stock and broth! I've always used the terms interchangeably. Regarding banishing carnivorous contraband when vegetarians show up, I personally hold the view that if I accommodate their dietary choices by cooking vegetarian meals for them or going to vegetarian-friendly restaurants with them, they have no right to impugn mine. Any vegetarian friend who lectures me on eating meat [even if couched in their so-called jokes, the most clever of which is making animal sounds] will find him or herself off my dining list and relegated to the "let's catch a movie" list.

mmmmmmm...looks great! College Inn - the brand that has stoof the test of time! I have begun to get the Pacific (Organic) boxed kind.

MyKitchen, I agree -- don't use beef stock often, but when a must-do recipe calls for it, I use the canned broth. On the other hand, if I had the patience to work through Thomas Keller's recipe, I'd definitely want to use real stock that I made myself.

Paz, I love soup like this -- spicy and not heavy!

Lobstersquad, that's absolutely how I feel; I just crave something light after all the indulgence of the holidays.

Sharon, I've never made stock in a pressure cooker -- in fact, I don't own one -- but I hear it's a marvelous method for soup and beans. Must try it.

Terry, I hide the meat out of guilt (mine), not because my vegetarian family members expect it. And anyone who makes animal sounds at my table gets the heave-ho!

Chris, our local Trader Joe's carries the Pacific brand of stocks, as well as Kitchen Basics. I prefer College Inn or Swanson (both in the low-sodium variety) to either of the other brands. And I am kind of partial to my own homemade chicken stock. Now if only I could get into making beef stock, too.

Yum! This recipe looks fabulous, especially for cold days! I have such a difficult time finding stock in supermarkets (compared to broth) and this bothers me to no end. Broth is cloudy and when I make sauces it clouds them up. So I either have to clarify them or make do. I wish more companies didn't add salt. It's easy to find low sodium but not without it completely and if you reduce the broth the salt concentrates in flavor.

Ms. Glaze, I agree completely. The only beef stock I ever find in the market is Kitchen Basics (http://www.kitchenbasics.net); it's not salt-free, and I'm not crazy about the taste.

Question: I made a pot roast yesterday and the recipe called for making its gravy with the veggies and store bought broth. I saved the 4 cups of liquid that the roast had been marinating in and I'm sure that I can use it somehow....but I was confused why the recipe (from Cook's Illustrated) would not have used it for the gravy, and if I can use it as a broth?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.