Fancy up a box of store-bought broth, or give a bit more flavor to your homemade stock, with these easy tips.

By Isadora Baum
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Soup broth, whether it's right out of a box or spooned from a pot of simmering chicken bones and veggie peels, can be pretty boring on its own. It's light in texture and mouthfeel, and it doesn't typically have much flavor. Yes, it's a step up from water, but broth can be so much more than the weak, watered-down version you typically pour from a cardboard box. Luckily, you can find ways to spruce it up, whether by adding different spices, herbs, and seasonings, or simmering with veggies and proteins.

Plus, stock is a pantry staple you should have at home for meals. A great broth can pair with various cuisines and dishes, as it's a simple and foundational element of many dishes, from ramen to pan sauces. It can also thin down a too-thick sauce or help pasta soak up marinara.

But before you pour whatever stock you happen to have on hand into your favorite creamy soup, you want to make sure it's flavorful enough to be worthy of your final dish. So whether that soup broth is homemade or it's store-bought, a few finishing touches can take that basic broth up a notch or two in terms of taste, heartiness, and even nutrition.

Here, a few simple ways to upgrade soup broth for a tasty, filling, and flavorful finish.

1. Add herbs and spices.

Herbs and spices add aroma, flavor, and intensity to soup broth. "Use fresh or dried basil in tomato-based recipes or fresh parsley to add freshness to clear broth soups," says Sofia Norton, RD. You can also go with more heat and spices. "Ground paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, ground ginger, and other powdered spices add a touch of color and spiciness to broths," she says. As a general rule, use fresh herbs at or near the end of cooking and dried herbs and spices early on. This helps you get the flavors you're looking for in the right balance.

2. Add acidic ingredients.

Foods that have a great deal of acidity, like lemon juice, vinegar, white wine, and tomato puree, can help liven up the flavor of bland-tasting bone and other broths. "The acidity of these ingredients works to complement and enhance the broth's flavors, not mask it. But, make sure to use these ingredients sparingly as you don't want an overpoweringly acidic taste," says Norton. Lemon works well with chicken broth; vinegar is great with beef broths; and white wine is awesome with broths when you are making a sauce.

3. Pack in umami flavor.

"If your broth is lacking in savory richness, try adding roasted onion, tomato paste, mushrooms, seaweed, soy sauce, or miso. These ingredients add umami flavor and depth to broth," she says. The choice of ingredient depends on the recipe, though. For instance, tomato goes best with beef broth, vegetable broth, and minestrone-type soups, while seaweed, mushrooms, soy sauce, and miso pair perfectly in chicken and fish broths. Onions work well in just about any broth, though!

4. Roast the ingredients first.

"If making homemade broth, it's a good idea to roast meat, bones, and vegetables before adding them to your pot of water. The browning of these ingredients gives depth, savoriness, and color to broths," Norton says. Plus, it's easy to roast all the soup broth components at once. "Do this by arranging all ingredients on a baking sheet or in a Dutch oven and roasting until golden brown," she says. Then scrape and use the brown bits before cooking your broth.

5. Let it evaporate and cook longer.

If you find that your homemade or store-bought broth is thin and bland, you can concentrate its flavors by cooking it a little bit longer." Make sure to remove the lid or tilt it slightly to let the steam escape. Reducing your broth to two-thirds of its original volume should result in two times the flavor," she says.

6. Skim excess fat.

Fat usually makes everything taste better, but too much fat in broth just makes it taste greasy and bland. "If you see a thick layer of fat floating on the surface of your broth, skim it with a spoon. You can also remove fat solids from refrigerated broths," she says. And rule of thumb? When it comes to broths, you really only need a small amount of fat to get a huge amount of flavor.

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