What is Beef Consommé? A Guide to This Concentrated and Flavorful Soup Base

Beef consommé is a type of concentrated soup base made from beef stock that is valued for its rich, concentrated flavor and velvety texture. While it shares some similarities with regular beef broth or stock, the preparation process makes consommé stand out.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about beef consommé including:

  • What is beef consommé?
  • How is it made?
  • How does it differ from beef broth and stock?
  • When and how is it used?
  • Best substitutes for beef consommé

What Exactly is Beef Consommé?

Consommé originated as a French culinary term meaning “completed” or “perfect”. Traditionally, it was considered a luxury dish enjoyed by the wealthy.

Today, beef consommé is a highly concentrated soup base made by simmering and clarifying regular beef broth. This long cooking process results in a liquid with a deep amber color and rich, intense beef flavor.

The high concentration of gelatin gives beef consommé a thicker, velvety texture compared to regular broths and stocks. But it still pours like a liquid rather than a gel.

While consommé can be enjoyed on its own as a soup, it more commonly serves as a flavorful cooking liquid. Its versatility makes it useful for enhancing soups, braises, gravies, sauces, and more.

How is Beef Consommé Made?

Making beef consommé is a delicate and intricate process requiring patience and precision. Here are the basic steps:

  • Start with a flavorful beef broth – High quality, homemade beef broth is ideal. Allow it to cool completely.

  • Add ground beef and egg whites – These help clarify and thicken the consommé as it simmers.

  • Simmer for 1-2 hours – As it gently simmers, impurities in the broth float up and form a raft on the surface while the consommé clarifies below.

  • Strain and chill – Pour the consommé through a fine mesh strainer to remove solids. Chill completely so fat can be skimmed off the surface.

The result is a crystal clear, concentrated soup base with intense aromas and beef essence.

How Does Beef Consommé Differ from Broth and Stock?

Beef consommé, broth, and stock are all flavorful cooking liquids. But there are some important ways that consommé stands apart:

  • Appearance – Consommé is darker and more transparent than beef broth. Broth can look cloudy in comparison.

  • Texture – The high gelatin content gives consommé a velvety, gravy-like texture. Broth is thinner.

  • Flavor – Consommé has a very concentrated, aromatic beef flavor. Broth is milder tasting.

  • Preparation – Making consommé takes significantly more time and steps compared to simple broth.

  • Uses – Consommé is ideal for enhancing other dishes. Broth can be used alone as a soup.

When and How is Beef Consommé Used in Cooking?

There are many great ways to use beef consommé’s bold flavors in the kitchen:

  • As a soup – Beef consommé can be served straight as a first course soup. Garnish with vegetables or mushrooms.

  • In place of broth – Use consommé to add rich notes in places you’d typically use broth or stock.

  • In braises – The body of consommé makes it excellent for braising meats and vegetables.

  • In gravies and sauces – Whisk in consommé in place of broth or water for intense flavor.

  • In casseroles or stews – Substitute some or all broth or stock with consommé.

  • As a cooking liquid – Poach fish, chicken, or vegetables in consommé.

Start by replacing just a portion of the broth or stock in a recipe with consommé. Its strong flavor means a little goes a long way.

Best Substitutes for Beef Consommé

High-quality beef consommé can be difficult to find and prepare at home. Here are some suitable substitutes:

  • Beef broth – For a less concentrated flavor, regular beef broth is an accessible swap. Reduce it to intensify flavor.

  • Mushroom consommé – Provides a similar rich, umami taste and amber color.

  • Condensed beef broth – Dilute condensed broth to approximate consommé’s texture and color.

  • Beef bouillon – Reconstituted bouillon has a stronger flavor than plain broth.

  • Beef stock – Has more body and beef notes than plain broth.

When substituting, you may need to adjust seasoning or quantities to account for differences in saltiness and flavor intensity. But these alternatives can work well in a pinch!

Buying and Storing Beef Consommé

You can purchase pre-made beef consommé from grocers and online retailers. Cans from Campbell’s and College Inn are commonly available.

Once opened, transfer consommé to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can also freeze consommé in portions for longer storage.

Make sure to leave headspace in containers when freezing, as liquids expand. Thaw frozen consommé overnight in the fridge before using.

Quick Tips for Using Beef Consommé

  • Add a splash to pan sauces for an instant upgrade in flavor.

  • Use in place of water when cooking rice or quinoa for more depth.

  • Mix with red wine and herbs as a braising liquid for meats.

  • Stir into pot roasts or stews in place of some broth or stock.

  • Make gravy with a meat’s pan drippings and beef consommé.

  • Poach flaky fish like cod or halibut gently in simmering consommé.

  • Replace up to half the broth in French onion soup with beef consommé.

Common Questions about Beef Consommé

Is beef consommé the same as broth or stock?

No, consommé differs from regular beef broth and stock in its deep color, concentrated flavor, and velvety texture achieved through the clarification process.

Can you drink beef consommé on its own?

Yes, beef consommé can be consumed directly as a soup, often garnished with vegetables or mushrooms.

Is beef consommé gluten free?

Most beef consommés are gluten-free, but check the label to confirm no wheat products were used. Some may contain soy sauce.

Can I make beef consommé at home?

You can make beef consommé at home but it requires lengthy simmering and straining steps. Buying pre-made consommé is easier.

How long does beef consommé last in the fridge?

An opened can or container of beef consommé will last 3-4 days refrigerated. Freeze for longer storage.

Discover the Deep, Rich Flavors of Beef Consommé

Beef consommé is a versatile and luxurious soup base that can transform the flavors of soups, braises, sauces, and many other dishes with its intense aroma and beefy notes. While making consommé from scratch does take finesse, pre-made options let anyone enhance their cooking with this classic French culinary staple.

Whether enjoying a mug of consommé topped with fresh chives or using it to add a flavor boost to pot roasts or risottos, beef consommé is a flavorful upgrade. By familiarizing yourself with the origins, uses, and flavor of consommé, you can easily incorporate this rich soup base into your everyday home cooking.

A Classic Beef Consommé – Cooked at it’s Place of Origin.


What is difference between beef broth and beef consomme?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Canned consommé is different from canned broth in that consommé typically contains gelatin and is saltier. You can use them interchangeably in most recipes if you correct the seasoning for the salty consommé.

What is a good substitute for beef consomme?

Beef stock can be used as a suitable replacement for consommé. In fact, it’s one of the more readily available alternatives. Condensed beef broth is a fairly decent substitute for consommé. Because it’s lighter, the broth should be cooked down until the flavor and color intensifies and closely resembles consommé.

What is Campbell’s beef consomme?

This Beef Consommé is a rich and flavorful soup made from beef stock for an authentic flavor. It is perfect for creating family-friendly soups and other quick and easy recipes.

Can you eat consommé by itself?

Consommé is a soup that is typically consumed on its own, at the start of a meal. And although it sounds fancy, don’t let the French name scare you (or the translation, which roughly means it is the consummate, complete, or finished soup).

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