You see broth all the time, and consommé on fancy menus. One is used in every soup, and one is an extra-simple soup in itself. So what exactly is the difference between broth and consommé?
Broth (or stock) is the product of simmering a variety of ingredients (vegetables, meat/bones, herbs and salt) over several hours. Consommé is also a broth, but it’s the king of broths. You get consommé when simmering broth is clarified using a raft, a mixture of stiff-beaten egg whites, ground meat (chicken, beef, pork or fish, depending on what you’re making) and mirepoix: finely diced carrots, celery and onions. The beaten egg white “cooks” on top of the broth, drawing in any of the impurities that make it cloudy, and the combination of ground meat and mirepoix amplifies the existing flavors of aromatics in the broth you started with. When the liquid has been fully clarified, the raft is discarded.
The resulting highly flavorful, clean-finishing, crystal-clear liquid is often used to showcase the ingredients within it without hiding anything within a cloudy or thick broth, as seen below. You can see right down to the bottom of the bowl.
So next time you’re wondering what to do with a big pot of stock, set some aside, clarify it with a raft and build an impressive bowl where every character is the star.