What’s the difference between canned beef consommé and beef broth? Can they be used interchangeably?
In restaurant kitchens, consommé is meat broth that has been enriched and clarified using a “raft,” an assemblage of egg whites and ground meat that forms, then floats on top of the pot as the broth simmers, and traps the proteins that cause cloudiness. Several canned soup companies market canned condensed “consommé” as well as broth. Comparing the ingredients listed on the labels of the two revealed that the main difference (assuming the same brand) is that the consommé includes gelatin and other additives to add body.
The two big national brands that offer both consommé and broth are Campbell’s and Heinz. Tasting the consommé and broth from both brands side by side, we found that the consommé was more viscous at room temperature. Also, a few tasters noticed that soups made with consommé had a little more body than soups made with broth from the same brand, but the difference wasn’t significant. We also found that we were able to swap out broth for consommé in recipes without much difference, save for one element: salt.
The commercial consommés were incredibly salty; we much prefer our recommended beef broth, Rachael Ray Stock-in-a-Box All-Natural Beef-Flavored Stock, for soups and all other recipes that call for beef broth. (Rachael Ray does not make consommé.)
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.