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Why does my soup stock taste like chicken water?

The question

I started making my own chicken stock last winter. I love the process and I love the way it makes my kitchen smell. I also love to brag about it. The only problem is that it tastes like weak chicken water. Even the canned stock I grew up on has more taste. Is it just me?

The answer

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It's usually just you. But, on the soup front, you're not entirely alone. Homemade soup can taste a little innocent if you're used to the store-bought stuff. Commercial soup companies compensate for unfresh-from-the-factory quality with MSG-mimicking additives like hydrolyzed yeast protein – and that's on top of the usual insane amounts of salt.

Assuming you're using a good recipe (you are following a good recipe, right?), just add a couple of Parmesan rinds next time. The king of cheeses contains natural MSG that gives incredible depth to liquids – some Italians serve Parmesan brodo straight. If you haven't been saving your Parm rinds (now don't you just feel ridiculous?), ask for them at your favourite cheese shop. You can also add a nub of pancetta for extra body. And for extra bragging rights, obviously. You're going to be insufferable now.

Follow food writer Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail

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