Pantry Essentials: Store-Bought Beef, Chicken & Vegetable Stock

Ingredient Spotlight

When I can, I make my own stock. But when I can't, I buy containers of beef, chicken, and vegetable stock at the store. That's life! Do you cook with store-bought stock? Have a favorite brand?

For liquid stock, I've found that I really like the flavor of Pacific Natural Foods Organic Chicken Broth, though I sometimes sub this out for Trader Joe's version depending on where I'm shopping. I go for the low-sodium option as I like to add my own salt to taste.

I also keep a jar of Penzeys Chicken Soup Base in the fridge. This is essentially chicken bouillon and I like it for recipes that call for a small amounts of chicken stock (thus avoiding the need to open an entire quart-sized container). It's also nice for adding depth to quick-cooking chicken dishes.

In general, I have to say that I think store-bought stocks are pretty darn tasty. They don't have the complexity, richness, and soul as a homemade stock, of course, but they work well as a base for soups and other dishes. If I think a soup needs more depth, I often add a splash of soy sauce or a few parmesan cheese rinds to the simmering soup. Using really fresh herbs and spices also makes a world of difference. (Check out more of my flavor-boosting tips below.)

Your turn! What kind of store-bought stock to you keep in your cupboard?

More on Stocks:

How to Make Chicken Stock
How to Make Vegetable Stock
Kitchen Shortcuts: Ways to Improve Store-Bought Broth
What Is the Best Brand of Store-Bought Broth?

Related: 20 Broth-Based Soups to Nourish and Satisfy

(Image: Emma Christensen)