For years I thought “broth was broth.” Whatever was on sale was what went into my shopping cart. But when ingredient reading entered my world, many of those well-known and generic brands went from my cart, back to the shelf. Most contain additives, MSG, unsavory ingredients, or even, believe it or not, dairy. So several years ago I switched to the aseptic packages of all-natural and organic broths.
The brands I have purchased over the years include Pacific Foods, Imagine Foods, and Trader Joe’s – each of which is surprisingly unique in taste and quality. After just a few boxes, I stopped buying the Trader Joe’s brand. We had no luck and flat out hated their chicken and beef broths. Down to the other two brands, I find myself becoming even more finicky, finding nuances of each that I like better than the other …
The Vegan Options:
Organic Vegetable Broth – I definitely like the Pacific Brand vegetable broth, but like Imagine’s, it is very veggie. Both have a tomato / carrot base that will add an orange hue to your meal (Pacific’s to a lesser degree) and this natural flavor should be taken into account when using. I don’t feel that this vegetable broth can easily be swapped in for chicken broth without expecting a different flavor (and image) outcome, but quite frankly, sometimes the result is better. As a veggie fan (and carrots in particular), I like the naturally sweet and salty flavor and how it works in recipes like this one …
Vegetable Broth Ingredients: Filtered water, Organic carrots, Organic celery, Organic carrot juice concentrate, Organic tomatoes, Organic onion juice concentrate, Organic garlic, Organic tomato paste, Organic onion powder, Organic garlic powder, Organic olive oil, Organic leeks, Organic spices
Organic Mushroom Broth – I love this broth. It is so unique, yet so flavorful. Though it obviously has a different flavor, I find the mushroom broth is a wonderful replacement for beef broth when you want a vegan or vegetarian meal. It adds a wonderful depth in flavor when used in recipes. Whenever I can find it (my local stores don’t stock it regularly, and it doesn’t go on sale as often) I use it to make a baked mushroom barley dish or one of the following …
Mushroom Broth Ingredients: Filtered water, Organic mushrooms, Sea salt, Natural flavors, Organic garlic powder, Carrageenan, Organic white pepper
The Non-Vegan Options:
Organic Chicken Broth – Pacific is okay, better than Trader Joe’s in flavor, but we do prefer the taste and ingredients in Imagine’s Organic Chicken Broth. When Pacific’s is on sale for a good price, I pick up a package or two for general use, but I find it isn’t as strong when used as the star of the show (ie chicken soup). Also, I wish they wouldn’t add sugar (organic evaporated cane juice), it is slightly noticeable to my family’s taste buds – and we like a purely savory broth. Nonetheless, it does the job, and is enjoyed in dishes like this one …
Chicken Broth Ingredients: Organic chicken broth (filtered water, organic chicken), Organic chicken flavor (organic chicken flavor, sea salt), Natural chicken flavor (chicken stock, salt), Sea salt, Organic evaporated cane juice, Organic onion powder, Turmeric, Organic flavor
Organic Beef Broth – My husband would love it if I used beef broth more often – he even prefers it for chicken soup. But for some reason, our local stores rarely carry the beef broth. The Trader Joe’s brand is absolutely horrid (in our opinion), but Pacific’s holds merit. It has a good overall flavor and richness, but I do prefer Imagine brand just a bit for taste and ingredients. Pacific brand has that touch of sweetness and a bit less sodium than Imagine (what can I say, we like salt), but really, whichever one I can find on the shelves will do, since I seldom run across them. This beef broth makes a good French onion soup – even without the cheese! Keep in mind though that this brand contains autolyzed yeast extract – which may be a concern for some people who like to avoid MSG and similar ingredients.
Beef Broth Ingredients: Organic beef stock (water, organic beef), Organic beef flavor base (organic roasted beef including beef juices, organic cane juice, organic beef flavor, organic onion powder, sea salt, organic canola oil, caramel color, organic garlic powder, organic black pepper, organic paprika, flavor), Sea salt, Autolyzed yeast extract, Organic garlic powder
Low Sodium Broths: The low sodium varieties from these brands may be excellent, but low sodium broths don’t fly in our house. We have tried them, and they are just a bit too bland – we end up adding more salt. Since our diet isn’t high in sodium (broth is about as packaged as our food gets), the splurge for soup and flavoring is worth it to me.
Though “from scratch” is almost always best, I love this brand of broths for convenience and taste … and they are even a fair price if you keep an eye on the sales. I usually stock up when they hit around $1.99 per 32-ounce package since my husband adores soup.
Purchasing: I usually buy the broths in-store, as they tend to go on sale for a better price than what you can find online. If you can't find them locally, or they are an astronomical price in your area, then sites like Amazon do have them for a fair price (particularly if you use the Subscribe & Save). Just be sure to compare prices on the larger and smaller packages. Sometimes the smaller packages (4 8-ounce packages) are actually a better price per ounce.