Soup for the Soul
Is it possible that something from our childhood, something that was pushed upon us at the first sign of illness, could actually be so good for us? Happily, the resounding answer is YES!
Growing up, we knew it as broth. Today, it is trending as “bone broth” and not without good reason. There are so many healthful and feel-good “excuses” to sip this delicious and savory soup!
Decades ago, food product manufacturers took note that their target market, women, were tantalized by the idea of having more time to do things other than cook. Preparing broth, although a relatively simple process, was time consuming. Commercial food makers knew they could produce on a mass scale in order to market low cost, ready-made food. They were right.
Consumers quickly adopted this new found, ready to use/eat item, aided by the rise of recipes in publications that were also targeting the home cook. Today, this is still an extremely popular item and there are more choices than ever before.
What is the Difference Between Broth, Bone Broth and Stock?
Let’s get a little clarity on these terms before we get much farther along. Although they are used interchangeably, and they do have more in common than not, they are not quite the same thing.
Broth: A delicious liquid made from simmering mostly meats and aromatics in water for up to a few hours. When strained and chilled, broth usually stays a liquid.
Stock: Generally a stock is made when the bones left over from butchering are first browned (along with the trace amounts of meat and connective tissue still left on them) then slowly simmered with aromatics such as onions, herbs and spices. After simmering low and slow for 2-4 hours, the collagen in the bones is released which gives stock a gelatin like consistency when chilled.
Bone Broth: Bone Broth is similar to stock, but with a stronger emphasis on extracting the full nutrient profile from the ingredients, especially collagen, glutamine and glycine. Thus, a bone broth is basically a stock that has been slowly simmered for a longer period of time, 8-48 hours! (Read on if you don’t know the health benefits of these nutrients!)
How to Choose the Best Premade Bone Broth
Please, when purchasing premade, have a good long look at the ingredients when making your choice. Note that most often there are some unusual or processed ingredients such as chicken or beef flavoring (What does this mean exactly?) or ‘natural flavors’ (…such as?), as well as ingredients used to preserve or enhance flavor such as “yeast extract.”
Note that if the label says just “broth” then it it is just broth….meaning it is likely made without simmering the bones. If you can only choose between broth and stock, the case on many grocery store shelves, stock is the option closer to bone broth.
Look for organic, all real ingredient bone broth or stock in non-BPA containers.
Healthy Comfort Food
Back to bone broth. This is the real deal. Back in the ‘old’ days, this would have been a homemade broth which, unless a vegetable based broth, would have naturally been flavored by animal bone along with other savory, nutritious ingredients, most commonly onion, celery, carrot and herbs.
You know what’s best when you are not feeling 100%: “Momma’s Chicken Soup”! The very first step in this nutritious and soul satisfying comfort food staple is a well-made bone broth. (Follow the recipe at the bottom of this blog to make your own delicious chicken bone broth!)
But it is more than just a feel good food. In fact, bone broth is sweet music to our body’s natural ability to heal itself with good nutrition.
Here are four great reasons to love this magical soup:
Detox help for liver: The liver needs the amino acid glycine to do its magic. Guess where oodles of glycine can be found? Oh yeah, bone broth!
Joint support: Joint health is dependent upon the health of the collagen in ligaments and tendons. Bone broth is loaded with glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acids. These stimulate cells (Fibroblasts) to build collagen in joints, tendons, ligaments, and even arteries. Goodbye creaking joints and muscle aches!
Hair, nail and skin health: Bone broth has biotin beat when it comes to building keratin – give it a try and see!
How Can You Add Bone Broth to Your Daily Routine?
This is super easy, because bone broth is such a tasty and versatile food:
Have it in a mug as a warm soothing snack in lieu of a cup of tea.
Join the majority of the world’s population and start your morning with a hearty bowl adding your favorite veggies, protein and/or a complex whole-grain carb (1/2 cup of brown/black rice or quinoa).
Costco, at least at the local shop in my neighborhood, carries a whole brown rice/millet ramen which is portion-sized. You can drop one serving in the broth and in three minutes you will have a delish meal!
Use it as a base for cooking your grains or for sautéing foods.
Do add veggies to all! When you drop finely chopped veggies into hot broth, they instantly tenderize just enough to leave some bite while all of the nutrients remain right there in the bowl.
Do I recommend bone broth as an everyday or go-to food? You bet. Make it in large batches and freeze in smaller portions so it is readily accessible. Or, try freezing in muffin tins for a perfect ½ cup portion. Once frozen you can break them into a ziploc bag and pull them out as needed.
Make a bone broth each weekend or twice a month and incorporate it into your routine – your gut, joints, skin, body, mind and your immune system will thank you!
Add bone broth and BOOM! You have flavor and nutrients galore. Try this recipe today:
Recipe: Hearty, Mineral-Rich Bone Broth
Cook Time: 8 – 48 hours Yield: 3 quarts
2 - 3 beef bones, organic grass fed (cut, with marrow)
2 - 3 lbs chicken bones, free range (break/cut larger bones)
2 - 3 lbs fish bones
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (Helps extract minerals from the bones. Don’t worry, it won’t affect the flavor.)
*For extra gelatin, add 2 chicken feet to any broth
*Optional additions: 1 onion (unpeeled is fine, just quarter), 2 carrots (unpeeled)-roughly cut, 2 stalks celery with leaves (roughly cut)
*Optional additions for extra flavor and minerals: ginseng roots, burdock root, kombu (seaweed), fresh parsley, sea salt, black peppercorns, green peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf, ginger
1. Either brown or roast bones for extra rich flavor and a darker broth color. If pan browning, do so on medium heat in lightly oiled, heavy bottom pan. You can use your stock pot if you are careful not to overheat it– one less pan to clean! If oven roasting, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bones on pan and roast for 30 minutes or until browned.
2. Place roasted bones, remaining ingredients and your optional ingredients in a 6 quart stock pot or crock pot and cover with at least one gallon of filtered water.
3. Heat the broth slowly and once a boil begins, reduce heat to its lowest point, so the broth barely simmers.
4. During the first few hours of simmering, check the pot and skim any impurities that float to the surface with a fine-mesh skimmer. Discard.
5. Do not allow the broth to come to a fast boil, and if more water is needed to keep the bones covered, add only hot water, not cold or lukewarm. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.
6. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add fresh herbs like parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Suggested Cooking Times – 8 hours will suffice, however, longer = higher concentration of nutrients:
Beef broth/stock: 48-72 hours
Poultry broth/stock: 24 hours
Fish broth: 8 hours.
Remove from heat and let cool. Strain with a mesh strainer or several layers of cheesecloth.
Note: Skimming fat from grass fed broth is optional. However, I suggested removal of fat from grain fed broths – there will be significantly more impurities. To do this, once broth is chilled and strained the fat will rise to the top and harden. Simply skim off and remove it with a slotted spoon.
How to Store Bone Broth
Refrigerate: When cooled, you can store your bone broth in a gallon size glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze: You can freeze in smaller containers for later use. I like to put some in larger containers that are ready to be the basis of a delicious soup. However, I also freeze some in silicone muffin trays, then break them into food safe bags for ½ cup portions that are ready for a quick cup of broth for a snack or use in recipes.
Canning: Only folks that have a good deal of experience using canning as a means of food preservation should attempt to can low acid foods such as bone broth. Here is a good reference from the National Center for Home Preservation on pressure canning broth for long term, electricity free, storage of up to a year.