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Our favorite bouillon cubes and soup starters to keep your stew pot a-flowing all season long. 

I can’t remember how many times this has happened: ready to roll on a recipe, chef’s knife in hand, perfectly mise en place’d, and gah! No chicken stock! Instead of starting over—or worse, getting back in the car—a bit of bouillon can go a long way when you need a flavor punch in a pinch.

Bouillon, and other dehydrated soup starters and bases, have long been an afterthought for serious chefs, reviled for over-use of MSG, nasty additives, and far too much salt, but there is a crop of new and improved bouillon cubes, pastes, and other soup starters to help you get that rainy day stew, sauce, stir fry, or gravy underway. Stock be darned.

Related Reading: 21 Cozy Soups You’d Never Guess Came From the Slow Cooker

As a formal disclosure we’ll say nothing quite beats a homemade chicken stock, but one of the advantages of bouillon—besides the obvious convenience, ease of storage, and price—is a range of flavors you can achieve without having to buy or wrangle multiple boxes, bottles, and jars of liquid and spices. BOU, for instance, makes a line of bouillon cubes and powders available in standard chicken, beef, and vegetable but also mushroom gravy, roasted garlic, ginger miso, and cinnamon coconut miso.

Here are a few of our favorite bouillon cubes and non-stock soup starters to keep in the cupboard all soup season long.

BOU Mushroom Gravy Cubes (Pack of 6), $21.49 on Amazon

BOU

Great for soups and stews of course, but don’t sleep on bouillon to add punch to sauces or even season chicken or burgers. BOU is MSG-free and comes in a slew of flavors from classic vegetable, chicken, and beef to coconut cinnamon miso. This mushroom-based flavor is vegan.Buy Now

Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base, $11.40 on Amazon

Amazon

This is actually concentrated chicken stock, and as its no-punches-pulled label suggests, it fancies itself better than bouillon. Look no further than the other side of the jar to see this soup starter has nothing scary to hide, made with real chicken and less salt than the average chicken base.Buy Now

Related Reading: Soup & Thermos Pairings to Tote Around All Fall

Rapunzel Vegetable Boullion with Herbs (Pack of 6), $20.40 on Amazon

Amazon

For classic French vegetable soups and to get that post Thanksgiving turkey soup on its way, this vegetable bouillon has an infusion of herbs. There is a no salt added version, too.Buy Now

BOU Miso Broth With Ginger, $3.63 on Instacart

BOU

A miso broth is a sacred thing and nothing can compare to a slowly simmered batch—but BOU’s miso broth bouillon is a formidable substitute in a pinch. Drop in some greens like kale or bok choy and Trader Joe’s dumplings for a satisfying weeknight dinner.Buy Now

Related Reading: How to Make the Best Keto Chili

Better Than Bouillon Chili Starter, $14.29 on Amazon

Amazon

You can buy and measure all the necessary spices and seasonings for chili or take this shortcut and always have the perfect blend of hot, smoky, salty chili spices on hand for game day.Buy Now

Header image courtesy of BOU

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