IS IT A BROTH, OR IS IT A STOCK?
The basis for a soup is stock, a flavorful liquid that results from simmering bones, scraps and vegetables in water, sometimes for a prolonged period of time. When boiled, bones release gelatin into the stock, which gives it body and what chefs call “mouth feel”. Stock traditionally is not highly seasoned since it is used as a base ingredient for other, more complex, dishes that each may require different seasonings. For that reason, some culinary experts will tell you that stock should not be served alone.
So, if you salt stock can you serve it alone as a broth? Those same experts would tell you no. In addition to seasoning, stock needs exposure to meat, not just bones, in order to develop the rich, meaty taste characteristic of broth. After your stock is strained and degreased, and simmered with meat, more vegetables and other seasonings, it becomes broth, the liquid in a finished soup. It now can served alone, strained and reduced into a more refined consomme, or combined with noodles or other ingredients. Bouillon is the French term for broth.
Commercially prepared stock is available at every grocery and is useful if time is limited. But if you have the possibility of a few hours of unsupervised simmering, creating you own stock will result in a more authentic, interesting and sophisticated soup. Even if time is limited, a short simmer with bones and vegetables will significantly improve store-bought stock.