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Why would you ever use anything but Low Sodium broth

I'm lazy, so when I make soups or anything that requires, or could use stock, I buy the broth at the store. I like the Whole Foods 386 brand, it's almost always on sale for $1.99/qt, and the Imagine broth. They both have a low sodium version. The other day I grabbed the wrong kind and made a split pea soup. I had some low sodium at home and ended up using two qt's of each. The low sodium has 140 Mg and the, hmm, I suppose it would be called regular, has close to 600 mg (that works out to be about a tsp of salt). I added no additional salt. Usually I would at least add some while simmering the onions, but not this time.

The soup was just this side of being over salted. I will never buy the regular broth again. If I had used 3 qts of regular it would have been close to inedible, at least for me. I realize everyone has different tolerance for saltiness, but why would anyone use the regular? Isn't it always better to be able to control how much salt is going into your food? I have the same issue with butter, but less so as it is usually not as over salted as the broth. Still, it's such an important part of flavoring, I'd rather control the amount salt. Perhaps it only shows that I have issues. :o)


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  1. You're absolutely right about the big question -- when I don't use my own stock I always use the low-sodium, especially in sauces that are going to be reduced.

    But note that 600 mg is only about 1/4 tsp, not even close to a full teaspoon, which is about 2333 mg.

    1 Reply
    1. re: acgold7

      All I can say is mea culpa. A few years ago I did this conversion and came up with the 600 mg = 1 tsp,just checked and you are right. Once again my math skills let me down. Thank you for correcting.


    2. Agreed. Nice to have as much control over what goes into your dishes. No argument here.

      1. I use normal because I don't always see low-sodiium at the store, and I like things fairly salty anyway.

        1. Price.

          Sometimes the "regular" (i.e. non low-sodium) is cheaper.

          1. I have seen some brands with 600+ mgs of sodium per cup labeled as "reduced sodium." Compared to some "regular" brands, I suppose that's true. Swanson's chicken broth has 860 mgs of sodium per cup, for example, while its "certified organic" version has 550 mgs. College Inn regular has 910, while its "light and fat free" version has 450 mgs.

            I buy Trader Joe's low sodium chicken broth, which has 70 mgs of sodium per cup. It tastes like chicken, not salt.

            If I can't get it and I'm making soup, one of the national brand reduced-sodium products will do in a pinch; I just reduce or eliminate all other salt from the recipe. But if I'm making a sauce or anything else in which the stock would be reduced, I substitute white wine.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bitchincook

              Now that you bring up the per cup measure I think that's where I got the 1 tsp per box as they are 4 cup boxes. Will have to check when I get home.

              Ha! Who needs to go home when you can use the interwebs. It is per cup so one tsp ber box is what I meant to say.

              Normally, when using the low sodium, I will use an additional tsp of salt in a batch of Split pea that has 4 qts of broth.


            2. That is why I can my own stocks and why I don't salt them when I make it. So I can control the seasoning in the final dish.

              1. I'll go you one further - why would anyone use canned or boxed broth when you can make many quarts from an 8oz jar of reduced sodium chicken or beef Better than Bouillon base? This saves on grocery weight and storage space. Just wish they made the lower sodium version of their whole line of bases. I use very little salt to begin with, so I never add any when using BTB, even the reduced sodium ones.

                2 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  I don't know as I've nerver tried it. The ingredients list is a bit odd, not bad, but not what you get with just chicken broth. And the sodium level is 500 milligrams per tsp in their reduced sodium chicken product. How much broth would one tsp make?

                  EDIT: here are the ingredietn lists for Imagine Chicken broth and teh Better than boullion -

                  Imagine -
                  organic chicken broth (filtered water, organic chicken), organic onions, organic celery, organic carrots, sea salt, natural chicken flavor, organic spices, organic expeller pressed canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil.

                  BTB -

                  Chicken Meat with Natural Juices, Salt, Organic Cane Juice Solids, Maltodextrin (from corn), Chicken Fat, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavors, Dried Onion, Potato Flour, Spice Extractives, Turmeric. * Minimally processed, no artificial ingredients. Sodium content has been reduced from 680mg to 500 mg per reference serving.

                  Deffintely worth checking out.



                  1. re: greygarious

                    Here is an interesting dissection of the BTB product. I can't speak to the veracity of the author, but it seems a fairly thorough review. Interesting that they hide the MSG content in other additives. (I am aware that lots of mfg's do this) I'm not against using MSG, just like to know what's going in what I cook. This wouldn't completely disuade me from using this product, but comes close.



                  2. I used to routinely buy the regular Butterball brand of chicken broth when it went on sale at Walgreens for 50ยข per can (seemed like every other week), since I felt the salting level seemed about right for both soups and rice pilaf. The low-salt version had to be salted anyway.

                    When I read about the BPA problems in canned products, I began to make my own stocks in bulk. I'm unable to tell if it's the right strength without taking a ladle full out to salt it lightly in a bowl for tasting. But I doubt if I add more than a teaspoon of kosher salt into 2 quarts of the finished product. I keep a little of the unsalted broth in a dish to compare it to, and boy, is there ever a difference in the salted vs. unsalted versions. It's amazing how much depth of flavor a bit of salt adds to food.

                    1. Why? Because some people can't taste anything unless there is a lot of salt to start with. I have a friend who puts salt on everything before he even tastes it. Then decides if it needs more salt. The only person I ever met who salts a pizza. He salts salad, he salts rice, he salts ham. Last summer his family came for a visit. Wow, my friend has really cut back on salt. These people were salt maniacs. But I'm guessing there are a lot more out there like that than some of us want to think about.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        I have no issue with people using as much salt as they like. I'm not salt o phobic. I was speaking from a cooks perspective. Too little or too much of anything can ruin a dish. I can see that if the regular isn't too salty for you it's fine way to go.

                        What struck me is I think of myself as a person who likes things on the salty side. When I realized that using the regular would have put 4 tsp of salt in the soup and that that would have been way too much, perhpas I'm only a medium salty person.


                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                          I tend to be more like you, salt used sparingly. Just being around people who were far more .... um.... 'salt oriented' was eye opening for me. And for them the saltiness doesn't obscure the other flavors, but without the salt they don't taste anything at all. What really surprised me is that as a whole the family doesn't have blood pressure problems. As Grandma used to say, 'it takes all kinds'

                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                            i guess i would have titled this thread, "why use anything other than home-made stock?" store-bought vs. home-made are two completely different ingredients. for under $5 i can have many many quarts of well reduced, unsalted stock that tastes like heaven. i have tried all sorts of canned and boxed broths and they are not to my liking.

                            as to laziness, heads and feet, plus carrots, onions and garlic. simmer. that's it. and then it's always in the freezer.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Well said. I was actually just straining my stock as I was reading this thread. I try to make it every week. It takes hardly any work or kitchen talent to make a decent one and the flavor is superior to anything I've ever had from the store. Cheaper too as I make it with things that often get thrown away.

                              I do not salt the stock itself. I like to salt the final dish if it needs it but if I'm say, reducing the stock down for a sauce for chicken thighs or something, I don't want an overpowering salty flavor.