Is Long-Running Broth the Key to Great Cooking?

There's plenty of history behind it

Delicious, delicious broth.
Jonathan Pielmayer/Unsplash

As the temperature drops, you might find yourself craving a hearty soup more and more. The reasons for this aren’t difficult to parse out, and the rewards that come from consuming a well-made soup are myriad. But that also begs the question: just what makes for a great soup? For some cooks, the answer to that is simple: a great broth. And “great,” for some of those cooks, means “several decades old.”

A new article in Atlas Obscura explores the art of making — and preserving — broths that are, in the words of interviewee Magdalena Perrotte, “older than Taylor Swift.” Perrotte, the article notes, brought the broth with her when she moved from France to the United States, and has been using it ever since.

She’s far from alone in this. The article goes on to cite examples of long-running broths in cooking traditions all over both Europe and Asia — though it does cite some disagreement among experts to the extent of whether a long-running broth actually makes for a better meal.

One of the chefs interviewed at Atlas Obscura alludes to the techniques of sourdough starters informing his broth creation and maintenance. That, in turn, puts these broths in an interesting tradition — one that calls to mind comparisons to sourdough and kombucha, and treats ingredients as things to be cultivated in and of themselves. You could make a similar argument about infinity bottles in the world of whisky, for that matter.

But it also points to something that spans cooking traditions all over the world — namely, that paying attention to the ingredients before you and making sure you know what you’re eating is vitally important. And if that includes broth that’s old enough to drive a car, who can argue with that?


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