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Strong Broth

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

Every 18th-century cook considered broths as essential as beer and bread. The key is to start with cold water and let the broth slowly develop. Skimming the protein that floats on top will ensure a superior result. You know you are successful if your broth has jelled in the refrigerator overnight.

18th Century

Take part of a leg of beef and the scrag-end of a neck of mutton, break the bones in pieces, and put to it as much water as will cover it, and a little salt; and when it boils, skin it clean, and put into it a whole onion stuck the cloves, a bunch of sweet herbs, some whole pepper, and a nutmeg quartered: let these boil till the meat is boiled in pieces, and the strength boiled out of it; strain it out, and keep it for use.

— Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, p.179

21st Century


  • 1 lb. stew beef with two or three soup bones
  • A small sprig of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme tied together with cotton string or thread
  • 1 lb. lamb neck (can be omitted)
  • 1 onion, studded with several whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 to 15 whole peppercorns
  • 1 nutmeg, cut into quarters


  1. Cut the meat into one-inch pieces. Break any bones with a cleaver or hammer.
  2. Place in stewpot, cover with cold water, and add 1 tsp. or less of salt.
  3. Slowly bring the broth to a boil, removing any scum or foam that may rise.
  4. Add the peeled whole onion that has been studded with cloves, the tied herbs, and the remaining spices.
  5. Reduce heat and maintain a simmer until the meat shreds easily. Strain broth through a muslin cloth.
  6. Refrigerate the broth overnight. Then remove the congealed fat.

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Historic Foodways