Did You Know?
Chicken soup is popularly known as 'Jewish penicillin', owing to its healing ability in alleviating common cold and respiratory congestion.
Unfussy and unpretentious, chicken broth is hands-down America's favorite comforting food. Ask any food aficionado, and he will swear by its wholesome and flavorsome qualities. A tasty answer to hunger pangs, it can be used to conjure up a number of lip-smacking and ambrosial dishes.
Chicken broth lends itself as a nutritional base in the making of a variety of sauces, braises, gravies, risottos, stews, soups, et. al., and can be made more substantive by adding cereals, grains, and vegetables.
Chicken broth is undeniably a surefire way of enhancing the body or flavor of your favorite dish―be it chicken noodle soup or any rice recipe with chicken dumplings. However, there are times when you are either out of stock or running short of time to prepare one; such situations call for a substitute. Given below are some healthy and good alternatives for chicken broth.
Homemade Vegetable Broth
A favored option amongst vegetarians, vegetarian broth can be used as a foundation for a variety of dishes and can be made using your favorite vegetables and seasonings. A small tip―avoid over boiling of vegetables, as the result may not turn out that savory but wimpy. Go for strong, flavorful vegetables like turnips, carrots, onions, parsley, celery, etc., and complement them with robust herbs like thyme, basil, bay leaves, etc. Put your leftover bits of veggies and herbs in a pot and simmer them for about 40 minutes. Drain water from the veggies by using a colander, and you are ready to go.
Next to follow suit is herbs. Herbs impart deep, rich flavor to dishes and can conjure the same magic as that of chicken broth. Always remember, dried herbs are relatively more strong and concentrated than fresh herbs. Hence, you will need three times the amount of fresh herbs than dry ones. Combine some invigorating and robust herbs like thyme, basil, tarragon, oregano, etc. with boiling water to make a tasty and nutritional alternative. Allow the herbs to steep for 10 minutes, but not more than that, as herbs like oregano turn bitter if let to steep longer. You can use this combination of water and herbs in the same proportion as that of chicken broth.
'Bouillon' is a French term for broth. Bouillon cubes are your tiny, compressed version of chicken broth. You can add Bouillon cubes (use one Bouillon cube for one cup of water) in warm water depending on the consistency you desire, and whisk the cubes till they dissolve completely. Many Bouillon cubes come with added salt, hence, it is recommended to taste the broth before adding it with abandon. Mostly, Bouillon cubes are high on sodium content, hence, pick the ones that have low sodium or no sodium at all.
Wine is an appealing option to those who want to heighten their gustatory experience. Red or white wine brings in its own distinct (and overpowering) flavor. Be careful with the amount of wine. If in a dilemma, maintain equal ratio of wine and water or wine and vegetable broth to tame wine's strong flavor. Choose the wine wisely as per your palate.
Dashi, another popular pantry essential, comes from the land of the Orient. It is known for its fifth flavor―umami (a savory, brothy or meaty taste with rich mouth-feel). A harmony of fermented fish peelings and konbu seaweed, Dashi is essentially used to render a strong seafood flavor to recipes. Dashi is available in powder, granular, and liquid forms and has a vegetarian version as well. It can be found in the Asian section of supermarkets or any specialized Asian store. Add Dashi as per your recipe requirements; add 1 teaspoon per cup of water, if you want your Dashi to be a flavor enhancer or ¼ teaspoon per cup of water, if you want to use it as a harmonizer. Caveat: Add Dashi with restraint, adding too much of it can make your dish excessively salty.
The above substitutes can imitate the same rich flavor of chicken broth. However, some of these can be used only to enhance flavors of your recipe, while some have their own distinct flavor that can be used to blend with other flavors.