First off, what is the difference between broth and stock???
Well, Wikipedia seems to think that stock is a thin, flavourful concoction prepared by simmering raw ingredients and removing them; whereas, a broth still has some of those ingredients floating around in it. Oh, and apparently salt is not added to stocks. Sounds fair to me.
What is bouillon?? Again, I turn to Wikipedia for a quick answer:
A bouillon cube [ˈbuːjɒn kjuːb] (US) or stock cube (UK and Australia) is dehydrated broth (bouillon in French) or stock formed into a small cube about 15 mm wide. It is made by dehydrating vegetables, meat stock, a small portion of solid fat (such as hydrogenated oil), salt and seasonings and shaping them into a small cube. Dehydrated broth is also available in granular form.Broth made from rehydrated cubes is different in taste from fresh broth because of its higher salt content and flavours changed by the boiling process.
Interesting ... and confusing ... haha. Sounds like we're all a little confused about the subtleties of broth, stock, bouillon and anything else you might call a water-based soup with no substantial chunks in it!
So why do I care about all this? Well, as I explained yesterday, I needed vegetable stock for a Moroccan Bean & Pepper Stew that I made. I didn't have a pot of vegetable stock simmering on the stove at the time (how unprepared of me!), so I resorted to using a bouillon cube. Well, rather approximately half of one dissolved in 3/4 cup boiling water. When I double-checked the instructions for rehydrating the salty little brick, I happened to look at the ingredients (I know, BAD dietitian! I should be reading the ingredients on everything right?? Oops!).
Here is what I found: table salt (SODIUM!!!), hydrogenated soy fat (TRANS FAT!!!), sugar (why?), monosodium glutamate (MSG) (SODIUM!!!), corn starch, dried vegetables 5.5% (celery, onion, carrot), spices, yeast extract, parsley leaf.
Translation: SALT (which, if over-consumed, is linked with high blood pressure and increased risk of heart and stroke), BAD FATS (which are linked with increased cholesterol and risk of heart and stroke), SUGAR, MORE SALT, some more refined carbohydrate, and a little bit of some very common vegetables.
This reminds me of a book I read this summer (wish I could remember which one!!!) that talked about how our society likes to eat sugar, fat, and salt - the more, the better. What's in bouillon cubes? SALT, FAT, SUGAR, and MORE SALT. No wonder they make such yummy soup and sauce bases!
Sadly, it seems that convenience has clearly trumped nutrition yet again. So what will I do about it? Well, I plan to make a batch of vegetable stock and freeze it in small portions so that I won't have to resort to using our little cubed friends so often. There is a handy step-by-step tutorial from Allrecipes.com that I plan to try out. Happy stocking!