If I had the time I would always make my own stock. It is one of the easiest things to make but somehow it doesn’t happen nearly as often as I imagine it should. So, when it comes to adding flavour to dishes like soups and stews, I have a bit of a secret weapon – Better than Bouillon. Sssh! It’s (nearly) like homemade only it’s always on hand and it’s one of the best substitutes for homemade that I’ve found anywhere in the world. Better than Bouillon comes in a wide variety of flavours – chicken, beef vegetable and mushroom are the ones I use most often – and with 41 servings per jar, it’s certainly cost-effective. Better than Bouillon bases are made with real meats, seafood or vegetables and natural seasonings and the vegetarian bases are also vegan-certified.
Because it’s a paste, it’s easy to add just a little. Adding a lot more flavour with a paste is also less messy than with a crumbly stock cube (not to mention stock cubes are hard to store once you’ve used just a little bit). As the base is very flavourful, I’ve found you don’t need to use the full recommended 1 teaspoon per 250mls water (the regular base can be a little salty if you use the full amount too). I encourage you to play around using ½ to ¾ teaspoon base per 250mls (1 cup) boiling water. Try out the reduced-sodium bases (available in beef, roasted chicken or roasted vegetable varieties) too! It’s a great way to boost the flavour of soups, sauces, gravies, or even for cooking vegetables, grains or pasta.
Better than Bouillon is an especially good choice in dishes where you’re really going to notice the quality of a stock, like a risotto. Many people think that this is a classic winter dish but I think it works well in the late spring/ early summer too – it’s a great blank canvas to show off fresh spring produce. When I saw Ontario asparagus for sale a couple of weeks ago, I knew I wanted to use it in a dish where it’s truly the star and since it wasn’t quite spring-like temperatures, I thought a risotto might work well. With a handful of peas (sadly, not fresh – they’re not quite available!), this was a wonderful, bright way to round out a chilly spring day.
Spring risotto with asparagus and peas
A bright risotto that's perfect for spring!
- 450g asparagus (approximately 250g, once you've trimmed off the woody ends), thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 litre boiling water
- 3 teaspoons Better than Bouillon chicken base
- pinch saffron (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion (approx 20g), finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 400g (1 3/4 cups) arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 75g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sauté the asparagus until it is just starting to soften (about 5 minutes - you don't want it too soggy).
- Add the peas and continue to sauté 2 more minutes. Cover and remove from heat.
- Stir the Better than Bouillon base into the boiling water and add the saffron.
- In a separate pot, heat the olive oil and butter and over medium-high heat.
- Sauté the onions and garlic until softened but not coloured.
- Add the rice and stir thoroughly to coat all the rice with the onion mixture.
- Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring constantly until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Lower the heat to medium and add about ½ cup of the hot broth.
- Stir the rice until the broth has completely absorbed.
- Add another ½ cup of the broth and stir until it's completely absorbed into the rice mixture as well.
- Continue to add about ½ cup of hot broth at a time until, stirring so the rice absorbs the liquid until you've used all the broth. This should take about 15 minutes.
- The rice will still has a slight "bite" when you bite into it (not crunchy but not soft either).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- At this point you can either stir the asparagus mixture into the risotto or you can serve the risotto and spoon the asparagus mixture over the top to serve.
- Serve immediately.
The Better than Bouillon base gave this a richness that you can’t get with a stock cube and I loved that I only needed to add a little bit to get a full flavoured stock. For me, the richness also meant I didn’t need to add as much Parmesan as I usually do so it felt a little lighter than my regular risotto.
- Get a 15% discount on Better than Bouillon products here – use discount code “eatlivewrite15“
- I’m giving away a Better than Bouillon prize pack! Details here!
Disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for this post and recipe. All opinions are my own and I only recommend products I use myself.