What is Brodo?
Brodo is Italian for ‘broth’, which is often interchangeable with ‘stock’ and ‘bouillon’ so we’ll try to distinguish the differences here. While they all refer to a liquid that has simmered with meats or vegetables, they usually have some slight differences. Broth and stock have a similar process, except that stock is a much longer and slower process which provides it with a more intense flavoring than broth. And bouillon usually refers to a cube of powder that when thrown into hot water, becomes an ‘instant’ broth or stock.
Whether you refer to it as broth, stock, or bouillon, they all serve the same purpose when it comes to being used so frequently in the kitchen. Not only is it delicious enough to be the base of your soups, but it can also be used to cook grains, make gravy, sauces, and you can even use it as a pan de-glazer.
Because brodo/broth is such a huge staple in our kitchen, we’ve decided to share some of our favorite recipes. Not only are we sharing our favorite recipes and techniques for the broth itself, but we’re also sharing some of our favorite dishes to make with the broth…Did someone say tortellini in brodo? 😉
Brodo Vegetale / Vegetable Broth
In the simplest of terms it is vegetable broth, which is the broth that comes from simmering vegetables. With more and more people becoming vegetarian or vegan in the last decade, the popularity of brodo vegetale has definitely risen. Not only does broth serve as an ingredient for a lot of soup and non-soup recipes, but it’s also a great way to repurpose leftover vegetables.
1. Simple Vegetable Broth
The best simple vegetable broth will be one made with the best and freshest veggies. So while the type of vegetable you use is important (we personally can’t make one without yellow onions), the quality of vegetable will shine when you use a simple broth recipe like this one. So if possible, try to use organic fresh vegetables for a broth like this. Most broths can be simmered with the pot lid on, but feel free to remove the lid which will evaporate the water more and intensify the flavor. We also recommend cooking homemade pasta or risotto with this vegetable broth (instead of using plain water).
2. Brodo Vegetale in a Bimby / Thermomix
For the lucky ones that have a Bimby, we’re also showing our favorite recipe here. Technically you can use any recipe that you want when making your broth in a Thermomix, but we just love that this recipe uses zucchini and pumpkin which we love the added flavor profile it brings to the broth. if you are going to take a non-Bimby recipe and make it on the stovetop (or vice versa), just make sure to make the changes for the amount of time needed. Simmering broth on stovetop is about an hour plus, while simmering in a Bimby is typically half the amount of time.
3. Vegetable Broth Tips & Tricks
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want to try make your own recipe based on the veggies you have at the moment, we highly recommend watching this video which will show you the do’s and don’ts when improvising with the veggies you have on hand. Here’s some of the do’s/don’ts:
- Make sure you have a decent size pot and fill it half way with water
- Use any veggies you have on hand (especially if they’re going bad)
- Use an onion (including skin) to give the broth a little bit of color. Try not too add too many onion skins, otherwise it will turn the broth brown. For a clear stock, don’t use any onion skins.
- Chop your veggies loosely into nice size chunks
- Don’t use any overpowering vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli or cauliflower
- Don’t use spices that are overpowering either (for example ginger, turmeric, curry)
- Don’t use potatoes unless you want more of a starchy stock
- Don’t forget that you can also use herbs
4. Dado Vegetale / Vegetable Nut
One of the best things about vegetable broth is that you can make your own dado vegetale (also referred to as vegetable nut or bouillon cube). You get the benefit of making a big batch of it at home, but don’t have to consume it all within a few days since they last in the freezer for about a month. They’re also great for weeknight dinners when you want to cut down on prep time. It’s why I like to refer to them as ‘instant broths’ because you can just drop them into your recipe and let the cube take care of the rest. We love this recipe from Misya because she’s perfected the vegetable to salt ratio to ensure the cubes don’t get freezer burn.
5. Light Risotto with Vegetable Broth
Our favorite thing to do with brodo vegetale is to use it to make risotto with. Why opt for plain boring water when you make your risotto, when you can use flavorful broth made from delicious simmering vegetables instead? once you make this switch, you’ll find that you’ll want to grab broth instead of water when you boil your starches like rice and pasta. Not only is it a great way to use up expiring veggies, but it provides additional flavor and nutrients that you just can’t get with water.
For a simple and versatile risotto, we love this recipe which makes a great base for any protein you want to add. It’s so good you can even eat it by itself. Just a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of freshly grated parmesan is all you need to kick up the flavor profile.
Brodo Di Pollo / Chicken Broth
I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t making chicken broth just require throwing chicken pieces into a pot of water? Well technically you could just do that, but we recommend also including vegetables. And like any recipe, it’s not just the ingredients that are important, but also the steps. Here are our favorite chicken broth and chicken noodle soup recipes.
6. Simple Chicken Broth Recipe and Tips
If you’re looking for the best chicken broth recipe, here is our favorite. This recipe includes tips and tricks to ensuring you get the most flavorful broth every single time. To achieve this, we specifically love this recipe and use it all the time.
They recommend using what they call ’soup chickens’, which they define as older chickens, and therefore provide more flavor to the broth. You can usually find these in the store by searching for packaging labeled as ‘hens’ that typically weigh more than the young chickens (between 4-7 pounds). Make sure to do a thorough trimming of excess fat and cleaning of the chickens. And if you have extra time, they also recommend doing a pre-boil of the chicken by itself to get all of the foam to the surface of the water. After that, it can be placed in pot of fresh cold water along with the vegetables for the recipe.
7. Chicken Noodle Soup with Chicken Broth
I don’t know what it is about chicken noodle soup that is so nostalgic for me. Maybe because in my family this was the soup you had anytime you were sick, that it (over time) literally became a food that comforted me. As an adult, it’s still the first thing i want the moment I feel a little scratch in my throat. I could eat chicken noodle soup with saltine crackers every night for dinner and I would be fine.
Something amazing happened when I got older and got more experienced in the kitchen. If I thought I already loved chicken noodle soup, boy did everything change once i started making the broth and pasta from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, the childhood version of the soup still holds a special place in my heart. But now that I’ve made this recipe with both the chicken broth and pasta from scratch, there’s no going back.
Brodo Di Carne
Brodo di carne, much like chicken broth, is made by simmering meat in water. But in this instance it is with beef instead of chicken. The debate on whether to go with beef vs chicken really comes down to personal preference. I usually like to think about the people that I’m cooking for when I decide which one to use. For instance, my sister-in-law who is vegetarian, is ok with chicken broth. But she actually has a large distaste for the flavor of beef.
I also try to think of the flavor profile of what recipe I’m using it for. if I have a really distinct flavor that i don’t want to detract from (for instance shrimp or lobster), I will usually opt for chicken broth since it’s a milder flavor and won’t compete as much with the beautiful seafood flavors.
And lastly one thing to point out…If you are making these into bone broths, i recommend using beef bones over chicken bones since they generally have more collagen (which is one of the benefits of drinking bone broth). The only exception to this rule is if you happen to have chicken feet bones. There is a ton of collagen in chicken feet bones, so that’s the only time I would pick chicken over beef bones. Since bone broth popularity has risen so much in the past few years, we’ve included a recipe for that in this list as well.
8. Simple Brodo Di Carne
While this version of the beef broth is really simple, it actually has some steps in the process that really make a difference in the final outcome. First off, they use several different types of beef cuts including beef shoulder pulp, beef steak, and then also beef bones. Second of all, they also have step-by-step pictures of how to prep your vegetables which I like to refer back to. It helps with those questions on whether your pieces are too big or too small. And lastly, I like that the first step is toasting the onion in a pan of oil before throwing it into the simmer pot, which allows the onion to carmelize. This gives the broth a sweet and nuttiness.
9. Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth – Brodo di Carne
As mentioned before, beef bone broth is a great way to get extra collagen. it provides so many great health benefits including but not limited to: healthy bones, hair, and nails, better brain function, reduction in inflammation, and assistance in digestion. To get as much collagen as possible from your beef bones, we recommend using a slow cooker. The longer you cook, the more benefits you will get from your broth.
There is nothing quite like a slow cooked beef bone broth. Leave it simmering for hours upon hours provides such a rich and deep flavor, and it actually gets even more flavorful when you eat it the next day. Because of this, we recommend making this broth recipe a day before you plan to use it. This will allow you ample slow cook time, and then allows the ‘blossoming’ that happens overnight when you refrigerate it.
You can achieve the same results of a slow cooker in a shorter amount of time, by using a pressure cooker. I like using this method when I’m not able to slow cook for an entire day, and I also think that the meat comes out a bit more tender with this method.
10. Bollito / Brodo di Carne Meat Soup
Bollito translated to English means ‘boiled’ and is typically a soup consisting of various types of meat. The rest of the recipe can however change depending on what region of Italy you’re in, but we love this recipe due to our own selfish reason: remember how we said we love chicken noodle soup? Well this is chicken noodle soup’s cousin, except it’s made from beef. And not just any beef, but beef short ribs! Beef short ribs are so tender and juicy especially when you put them in a soup or stew. Try this recipe if you’re normally a chicken noodle soup fan – you may just uncover that you have a new favorite.
11. Brodo di Carne Beef Soup with Farfalline Pasta
This is the only recipe we’ve listed where all of the meat and veggies are browned before simmering in water. While it is a bit of extra work, we still recommending going this route if you have a bit of extra time. I’m not really sure how this occurred for both my husband and myself, but we both really like the flavor of slight charring. Maybe it’s because we love barbecue, and that char taste is so pronounced in barbecued foods, that we’ve ended up with an acquired taste for it.
By browning your ingredients first, you can leave them in the pan for a little longer to obtain that slight char flavor. While this recipe does require a little bit more prep time, we think the end result is totally worth it.
12. Vegetable Beef Soup
Looking for that hearty, sit cozy by the fire kind of soup? Then this is the soup for you! There are nice chunks of meat and potatoes, which make this soup so filling. And having such big pieces of vegetables like carrots, celery, and corn, makes this recipe not only delicious but also super healthy.
This is the perfect soup for winter! I can imagine that this soup would be prefect on a really cold night, especially when trying to warm up after coming inside. This is exactly what I would want to eat after skiing on the slopes, getting into the cabin, and needing to fuel up and warm up at the same time.
Also, you can opt to remove some of the liquid after cooking, if you prefer to convert this into a stew. Both methods would work for this recipe.
Tortellini in Brodo
Tortellini in Brodo is a favorite pasta dish of Aziz Ansari, which he tried in Bologna.
Have you checked out Master of None starring Aziz Ansari on Netflix? We discovered the show this past week and devoured the whole first season in a few days. The show is hilarious and covers topics relevant for today’s time. You will also notice a common theme through out the show, pasta.
It is no surprise that pasta is Aziz’s favorite food. You hear, see and learn all kinds of pastas tidbits sprinkled throughout the show. He wears a cool t-shirt with the slogan “I Love Pasta” in one scene and in another scene makes carbonara. After each episode, I found myself craving a bowl of pasta.
I then decided to find out what is Aziz’s favorite dish and in an interview found here, he divulged it is the savory tortellini in brodo. I had the good fortune to try this dish before in a restaurant in Northern California. The plump pasta bites were filled with a delicious cheese combination. The tortellini swam in a beef broth that tasted as if the shank had been slowly cooked for hours.
Ever since then, the search for our favorite recreations was on. Here are some of our favorite recipes, perfect for the winter months!
And if you want to jump ahead and see our absolute favorite recipe, scroll to the end to see recipe #5 which comes from a family in Bologna, Italy. It is truly a masterpiece!
13. Simple Tortellini in Brodo
When it comes to food, sometimes keeping the recipe simple is the way to go. That’s what I love about this version in particular. No frills, nothing fancy. Just fresh handmade pasta with simple, delicious broth. It’s perfect for a really cold night, or even as a light lunch or side to a meal. It’s also a great way to get rid of any vegetables that you know you’re not going to use. You’ll love how quick and easy this recipe is, you’ll find that it’s a great go-to when you want something simple and delicious. Not only does she recommend batch-making and freezing them for later. But she also has a step-by-step folding guide with pictures for each step. This comes in handy for people like me who need to see exactly how the folding technique should be.
14. Spinach Tortellini in Brodo
i will admit that I’m not a vegetarian. I love meat and have it for nearly every single meal. While I don’t mind eating vegetarian meals every now and again, I usually walk away feeling like I missed the meat. Well this is one of a few recipes that is so good and satisfying that i don’t even notice the meat is missing. Or maybe it’s because the cheese tortellinis melt in your mouth. Or maybe it’s because the broth is beautifully flavored with the parmesan rind and a pinch of nutmeg.
This is also a great recipe to sneak a lot of veggies in. Feel free to double down on the veggies called for in the recipe, or add in extra beans or tomatoes.
15. Tortellini en Brodo with Mushrooms
If you liked that last vegetarian recipe, you will also really love this one. While this broth also uses the same secret ingredient of parmesan rind, the broth is kicked up a notch due to the white wine and abundance of cremini mushrooms. I’m a huge fan of mushrooms, so I knew I was going to love this recipe before I even tried it. But i was not prepared for how rich and umami-packed this recipe would be. I love the broth so much that i could probably eat it without the tortellini. I’m not going to, but I almost could.
16. Tortellini en Brodo with Pork Belly
As mentioned earlier, I’m a pretty big meat lover. That’s probably why this recipe is one of my favorites. The filling is made with a blend of tender pork belly, chicken thigh, and boneless beef chuck roast (or as I like to call it, a “trifecta of meat”). The meat combined with fresh parmesan is a winning tortellini in my book. And because sometimes I’m too lazy to roll out fresh pasta whenever I’m craving it, I love that this recipe also recommends using square wonton wrappers. If you’re looking for a quick and easy meat tortellini in broth recipe, I recommend this as the one to start with.
17. Tortellini in Brodo (Traditional Bologna Style)
While the previous recipes on this list are a bit on the quick and easy side, I will admit that this next recipe is quite labor-intensive. I don’t even think I can call it a recipe cause it’s actually art in the form of food. This recipe was handed down generation to generation from a family in Bologna. The reason I’m mentioning this point is because some have claimed that Bologna is the birthplace of the tortellini…
You can read all about the legend of how tortellinis came to be located here. But the abridged version of the story is that an inn keeper in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy had the joy of the goddess Venus staying at his inn. He was so overcome by her beauty that he would spy on her through the keyhole, where he could only see her navel. He was then inspired to create a pasta in the shape of her navel – ombelico di Venere (which translates to Venus’ navel). Which today we call the tortellini.
The whole story (if true) is kind of strange. But the reason I bring it up is because there has been centuries-long debates on the birthplace of the tortellini, between the 2 towns of Bologna and Modena (both which are in the Emilia region of Italy). So whether you believe if Modena or Bologna is the rightful birthplace, it doesn’t really matter. Both towns have hundreds of years of experience in perfecting the recipes and technique. Any recipe that comes from generations of families from either Modena or Bologna should be treated as gold.
Check out this amazing traditional recipe from Christina’s family in Bologna!
Watching Christina and her family makes these tortellinis is like watching a masterpiece. The amount of love and attention to detail they put into their food is so inspiring. It makes me want to carry on their family tradition and make this recipe for my family every Christmas – here’s a version of it with shrimp!
Which of these recipe stood out to you? Is there one you want to tackle first? Or will it depend on what you’re in the mood for? Or are you like me and do the simple version on a day-to-day basis, with the mushroom version when I want some umami, and the traditional Bologna version for my family on Christmas?
If you liked this brodo recipe round up, you’ll want to check out our favorite holiday cakes in our Best Ciambellone Recipes post.