It’s under $5, and it will change the way you cook.
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Credit: Pacific Foods

Here at Cooking Light, we’ve talked about the health benefits of mushrooms, we’ve used them deliciously forever (seriously, eat this sandwich!), and even delved into the wacky world of mushroom-enriched foods (like these ones). So I’m unsure how I managed to forget about one of my very first kitchen crushes: mushroom broth. Its versatility and general yumminess saved my (vegetarian) bacon many, many times when I first started cooking.

Now, I’m prone to falling hard for one item, and using and obsessing over it until everyone else tells me to shut up about it. Usually once something makes it into my pantry, it never leaves (See: gojuchang, tahini, and labneh.) But many moves and grocery store changes took me away from the original source of ingredients for all of my early kitchen experiments: the trusty Kroger down the street. So my apologies, mushroom broth, for forgetting about you, but I couldn’t find you for a long time… until TODAY.

We were having an office discussion about stocks and broths, and I mentioned my favorite old friend longingly. I complained that I couldn’t find the mushroom broth in our local Whole Foods or other fancy stores. And then, my genius coworker found it for sale. At Wal-Mart, of all places. Sometimes, life is surprising in a delightful way.

So now that I can tell you where to go get it (Amazon has it too, for you Prime members), I can tell you why I love it. Keep in mind, it does have a bit of sodium in it, so if you’re using any more than a cup, I’d cut it with water (this is Cooking Light, after all).

Personally, I like the umami-rich broth as a veg-friendly base for miso soup or even a vegetarian ramen. When I’m sick, a hot cup of broth with an egg poached softly into it, topped with slivered green onions is like magic. Swap it for beef or chicken stock—I’m partial to it as a non-beef base for a killer mushroom-barley soup.

I’m not sure that I would do this now, having learned how to, you know, cook, but this was my favorite thing to do with mushroom broth, back in the day: Take a cup or so and reduce it down to concentrate the flavor. Then add peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and chili flake to make a super-easy loose sauce that I like best on crispy-seared tofu.

Now that I know what from what, I can tell you that ‘shroom broth would be wonderful to punch up this hearty soup, subbed out for chicken stock in a risotto, as a swap for beef stock in French onion soup, to punch up a mushroom gravy, and finally, I’m betting that the mushroom sauce on this egg foo yong would suffer not at all from my new-old friend.