Bouillon is a clear soup stock made from poultry, meat, fish, or vegetables. It is the basis of many dishes, and can also be used on its own for mild, delicate soups. Making bouillon at home can be time consuming, although some cooks think it is worth it. Otherwise, ready-made versions can be purchased in most grocery stores in a variety of forms. The word comes from the Latin bulla, which means “bubble,” a reference to the long simmering required to make it.
Typically, the cook starts by frying vegetables like garlic, onions, and celery in oil with spices before tossing in meats to brown and covering the mixture in water to simmer. Once the ingredients have begun to break down, the bouillon is drained to remove the large solids. Next, it is typically clarified, usually with the use of egg white. An egg white will attract small impurities, so dropping one into a broth pulls the impurities to the egg white, which can then be removed with a slotted spoon.
Making bouillon is an excellent project for a cold day when someone is stuck at home. The cook can start it simmering while he or she works on other projects, periodically checking on it to make sure that it is not boiling over. After the bouillon is made, it can be frozen for use later or used in a soup. Since some sauces also call for small amounts of bouillon, cooks may want to consider filling an ice cube tray with it so convenient small helpings are available for sauces.
In the store, bouillon can be found in the form of flakes, granules, cubes, and concentrated sauces. As a general rule, these dehydrated options are more salty, but they are perfectly acceptable for many foods, especially when mixed with an assortment of other ingredients. Granules made for convenience were first introduced in the late 1800s, and cubes followed shortly afterwards in the early 1900s. These forms are dissolved in warm water to rehydrate them and activate the flavoring.
While classic bouillon is made with meat, vegetable bouillon is also available in many places, especially regions with big vegetarian communities. This form can have a wide range of flavors, depending on which vegetables were used. Carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms are common ingredients in vegetable bouillon. If a store bought version is too salty for a cook, he or she can add potato chunks to the water, allow the mixture to simmer briefly, and then pull the potatoes out.