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Bouillon comes from bouillir, ‘to boil’; it’s also the word first used in the mid-19th century for a kind of affordable restaurant, a bit like a soup kitchen. Around that same time, Justus von Liebig came up with a process to manufacture meat extracts and, eventually the instant stock cube.

Outside of fine restaurants, where chefs have the time and staff to make stocks from scratch, the French use bouillon cubes, as well as powdery fond de veau and fond de volaille.

If you’re following a recipe, you may see:

chauffer à gros bouillons: heat to rolling boil


donner un bouillon: heat until it boils

écumer au premier bouillon: skim the scum when it first comes to a boil

les yeux du bouillon: fat bubbles on the surface

Soups, stews and casseroles

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Kui-Doraku, Creative Commons License