What’s in Your Pot: The Differences Between Bouillon, Stock, Broth and Consommé


Sometimes it’s confusing to know what you need for a particular recipe. You want to nail it, but even one stray ingredient can throw everything off. If you’re almost (but not quite) satisfied with your cooking skills, and you can’t figure out what’s missing, here’s what you need to know about bouillon, stock, broth, and consomme.

What Is Bone Broth?

Unlike with other things, there is no concrete definition of broth, and many differing opinions make it very difficult to sort out what, exactly, a “broth” is. Most people agree it’s not much different from stock. The liquid remaining from animal bones being boiled in water usually with aromatics like garlic, onions, and other herbs constitutes a broth or stock.

In that sense, bone broth is historically very old.

In mid-eighteenth century France, travelers would stop and stay the night at inns for the night. Eventually, the innkeepers started handing out bowls of broth which were called restoratifs. The practice evolved into the first restaurants. It was a place to rest and restore one’s health and wellness.

Rebecca Spang, author of The Invention Of The Restaurant, says by the late 18th century, people who were sensitive and suffering made a public show of their own delicacy, visiting new establishments called “restauranteurs’ rooms” where they would stop and sip their bouillons (the French word for “broth”).

Today, high quality broths are still sold using the old fashioned methods, by companies like Au Bon Broth.

The Health Benefits

If you spend enough time on the Internet, you’ll get the idea bone broth is the miracle cure for almost any ailment. Some chefs even call it “magical,” while health bloggers praise it for its health-promoting properties. If made from bone marrow, which is the densest source of fat-soluble vitamins, broth can be healthful. Boiling the bones releases those vitamins and minerals into easily digestible liquid form.

Not all nutritional experts agree about the health benefits of broth, however. Some scientists have done research on this sort of this, disclosing to NPR the purported health benefits are “overblown.”

The body doesn’t use collagen directly. Instead, it breaks down the proteins and uses them wherever needed. Very few studies have been done on broth. Studies that do exist only show chicken broth reduces inflammation in the human body.

That’s significant to be sure, but it’s not a cure-all.

How Do Broth, Bouillon, Consomme, Stock, And Soup Differ?

Brodo, broth, bouillon, and stock are all basically different names for the same thing. They’re usually meat-based and include bones, vegetables, fragrant herbs and spices which are simmered in water. The result is called a “broth” or “stock.”

In Italy, it’s called “brodo” and in France it’s “bouillon.”

Some recipes use bouillon as dried cubes of concentrated flavorings dissolved in water and reconstituted into stock.

Soup is different from broth or stock as it’s often, but not always more than just stock. It starts life as stock or broth. But almost always has additional ingredients, like diced or cubed vegetables, chunks of meat and beans, grains, and other different spices and herbs.

Why Do People Claim Broth Is Stock?

Because it is. Most people don’t understand the difference between stock and broth. The stuff you buy at the grocery store or make at home is not necessarily the same thing, but it is similar. Dietitians like to define stock as something made with roasted animal bones and simmered for many hours.

Why Is It So Popular Right Now?

Bone broth appeals to people who want to improve their health. It was like this when first served at Europe’s early restaurant establishments though. The Paleo Diet is very popular right now. Since bone broth is a key component of a low-carb, or controlled carb, diet, it’s become popular in that growing community.

Why So Expensive?

The first thing most people notice is it’s expensive to make or buy bone broth. There are solid reasons for this. One reason is because the ingredients going into it are expensive. Think of the meat that must be purchased. Most of these are hard-to-come-by bones like marrow bones. Many people advocate using pasture-raised animals, which increases the cost even more.

But, even when a person uses non-pastured-raised animals, the cost is increased because of the growing popularity of bone broth. Supply and demand increases costs for bones.

And, if you use organic veggies, the cost goes up even more. So, while healthy, it’s not necessarily cheap.

Steve Kadlec, Founder of Au Bon Broth, educates and advocates for a healthy lifestyle of vitality and longevity through natural organic whole foods such as bone broth.

Speak Your Mind



  1. Cheryl W. says:

    I make my own broth. If I happen to be out and need some for a recipe, I will use canned Consomme. Great article explained well.

  2. Barbara Montag says:

    Thanks for a most useful post.
    Now I’m better informed to make the right choices.

  3. Marti Tabora says:

    This is really great information, I had heard a lot about bone broth, but never really liked the sound of it. I didn’t realize that there were health benefits, I thought it was just a trend. Thank you.