Beef consommé makes for a delicious appetizer or can be a flavorful ingredient for your recipes. This amber-shaded soup was once considered a very exclusive dish that only the wealthiest could enjoy and today it’s just as appreciated as it was back then.
When you can’t get your hands on this delectable broth, you can use one of the most common substitutions for beef consommé, which includes beef broth, stock, and even the just-as-delicious mushroom consommé.
The best substitutes for beef consommé
Beef consommé is a very specific type of beef broth, which makes it hard to replace successfully if you’re looking for a perfect equivalent. That’s because beef consommé is not just meat broth, but a refined type of beef broth which often has added ingredients.
Usually, a good replacement for beef consommé is another type of meat broth. You can often obtain similar results and you can achieve a closer outcome if you balance additional ingredients well enough, but you cannot expect to find a perfect substitute for beef consommé.
Beef consommé works really well on its own, but it’s also found as an ingredient in other recipes. In this case, it might be easier to substitute beef consommé successfully by choosing one of the alternatives described below.
1. Beef stock
Beef stock can be your go-to solution when you don’t have beef consommé. It is a great beef consommé alternative if you wish to replicate the intense flavor of consommé.
Beef stock is made from simmering bones, that may or may not have some scraps of meat left on them, because when referring to beef stock we usually mean that specific liquid made from animal bones.
You can find beef stock ready-to-heat in stores if you wish to save time, as the cooking process might be too long for a last-minute meal. The bones used in beef stock are sometimes roasted beforehand, in order to provide a more intense flavor. However, it’s not essential.
The beef stock has many uses and you can enrich stews, soups, braises, gravies, and sauces with it. For best results and a better flavor, it is recommended to make homemade beef stock.
The cooking time for the beef stock is between two and six hours, so of course, it’s not something everyone can do, but if you have time to spare, it is totally worth it. This long cooking time is needed for the bones to provide a gelatinous texture to the liquid.
If you wish to make your own homemade beef stock, it is better to roast the bones for 30 minutes beforehand. Use around 2 pounds of beef bones and once roasted, add them in a pot full of water with your preferred vegetables (carrots, celery, onions) and herbs.
2. Beef broth
Beef broth is often mistaken for beef consommé, therefore you might wonder why it isn’t considered the best beef consommé replacement. Beef broth is indeed at the top of the list, but its flavor is rather disappointing when compared with beef consommé.
For comparison, beef stock is more intense than beef broth, which is a thinner and watered-down version of consommé.
However, it’s extremely easy to make beef broth and it doesn’t require a long a cooking time as beef stock, so it’s often preferred as a substitute for beef consommé.
Ingredients for beef broth include meat, vegetables, and seasonings. Bones can be used, but are not necessary. In fact, any liquid that had meat cooked in it at some point can be considered beef broth.
Despite the differences in flavor and consistency, beef broth can be used in all the ways you would use beef stock, including stews, soups, sauces, and braises. Although it doesn’t hold well on its own, when it’s well-seasoned it still makes a flavorful side dish.
It is easily purchasable in any store, but you can make it at home by simmering meat with vegetables and seasonings. The cooking time is under two hours.
For best results, once the broth is done cooking, you can simmer it on low heat for an additional 15-30 minutes. This way, the liquid will decrease and the flavor will become more intense and closer to that of beef consommé.
3. Mushroom consommé
Mushroom consommé is another delicacy that makes a perfect condensed beef consommé alternative for vegetarians and for those who follow a plant-based diet.
One of the best mushrooms you can use for consommé is the shiitake mushroom. This variety of mushroom is widely known in Asian countries and is slightly more expensive than other mushrooms, but its deep umami flavor is worth the extra money.
The Japanese name shiitake literally means “mushroom from the Shii tree”. Shiitake can be found in both fresh and dry form, but for a consommé it is recommended to use fresh shiitake mushrooms.
In order to make a shiitake consommé, you should clean 1 and ½ pound of fresh shiitake mushrooms and leave the stems on. The stems are usually removed because they’re chewy and very tough, but in this case, you can skip this step.
Chop the mushrooms in fine pieces and add them to a medium saucepan with other vegetables and herbs — here are some recommended ingredients:
– 1 small onion cut in half, with the skin still on
– 1 chopped carrot (peeled)
– 1 chopped celery rib
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 quart water
The best thing about mushroom consommé is the cooking time. In fact, once the water starts boiling, you only need to cook the ingredients for 10-15 minutes.
Afterward, pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and press the ingredients to extract as much liquid as possible. You can then discard the solids and season the consommé with black ground pepper and kosher salt.
4. Homemade beef consommé
You can find beef consommé in stores, but the best alternative would be to make beef consommé at home. The recipe is easy and it doesn’t take a long time to cook if you already have beef stock or beef broth ready.
In order to get the best out of your homemade beef consommé, it is recommended to use homemade beef broth or stock as well. This should be the longest part because as we already mentioned, simmering the bones can take up to 6-8 hours while simmering the meat for the broth should take around 2 hours.
Once you have your base ingredient ready, you need to prepare the following:
– 4 egg whites
– 4 celery stalks
– 4 small tomatoes (Roma)
– 6 cups of beef stock or broth
– ¾ pound of sirloin
– 1 tbsp black pepper
– 1 and ½ tbsp salt
– 1 sprig of thyme
– 1 sprig of rosemary
Start by adding egg whites and pepper to a bowl and whisk them until you get a foamy texture, then cut the vegetables and sirloin. Afterward, add all the ingredients to a large pot on medium heat and stir them frequently while it reaches the boiling point.
Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for 40 minutes without stirring. Finally, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. This is fundamental to obtain a clear liquid because the “impurities” will be caught by the cloth.
When your crystal clear broth is ready, season it however you like it and serve it. If you store it in an airtight container, you can keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days or you can freeze beef consommé for up to six months.
What is the difference between beef consommé and beef broth?
The two soups have many people confused, but it would be enough to look at them side by side to understand the key difference between beef consommé and beef broth: consistency.
We can describe beef consommé as a thicker and clearer version of beef broth. In fact, even though it looks like a skimmed version of the broth, beef consommé is actually richer and tastier than beef broth and it’s twice as thick.
Beef consommé and beef broth are nonetheless very similar, which is why one can substitute beef broth for beef consommé. After all, beef consommé has beef broth as the base ingredient.
Beef broth is made by simmering meat, bones, and (sometimes) vegetables, resulting in a brown and opaque liquid. It is not to be confused with beef stock, which is mainly made from simmering bones, while the broth includes meat as well as other ingredients.
While beef broth is made to be used as an ingredient for other dishes, such as casseroles, polenta, and stews, beef consommé is eaten as it is and treated as an appetizer.
Another important difference is in the flavor, which is mild in beef broth and definitely fuller and more appetizing in beef consommé.
In short, beef consommé is a better, improved version of beef broth, which differs in consistency, flavor, and in its status as a stand-alone dish, rather than a side dish.
How to choose a beef consommé substitute.
The flavor of beef consommé can be hard to replicate because behind this delicious broth there is a long cooking process and several savory ingredients.
When you don’t have this delicacy at hand, you can count on a few alternatives that can make a nice beef consommé substitute:
– Best alternative: your best option is to make your own beef consommé. You can start with store-bought beef stock or broth if you don’t have the time, but it would be better to make a homemade base ingredient for a better flavor. The recipe for homemade beef consommé is really simple and only takes 40 minutes if you already have broth or stock, so it’s definitely worth a try.
– In a pinch: no beef consommé and no time to make your own? You can replace beef consommé with either beef stock or beef broth in the same quantities. They work well as beef consommé substitutes and make a great addition to a large variety of recipes that require consommé.
– Vegetarian alternative: if you’re up for something different, but just as tasty and rich in flavor as beef, you should totally try shiitake mushroom consommé. This beef consommé alternative shares the appetizing umami flavor of beef and is completely plant-based, which is a bonus.