The weather is starting to change and fall is in the air. It's my favorite time of year. I have always been a "fall" cook, meaning I like to make soups, stews, and pretty much anything that involves a butternut squash. But my favorite by far is soup.
There's nothing more comforting and delicious than a bowl of soup when the weather starts to get a little cooler.
The most important part of soup is the broth or stock. It's the flavor base and it can make or break a good soup as far as I'm concerned. I even like to flavor it with plenty of ginger and turmeric and sip it by the mugful when I feel like I'm coming down with a cold.
Starting right about now I try and make chicken broth or beef broth a couple of times a month because A) it's ridiculously easy, B) it's great to have around and easy to store and C) it's a nutritional powerhouse. Bone broth is a great source of collagen which is fantastic for your joints and bones but more importantly it's one of the most healing things you can feed your gut. The gelatin in bone broth works to make the lining of your gut stronger which can help fight food sensitivities (like gluten and dairy), and help populate the good bacteria that live in your gut. These things are key to keeping inflammation at bay. It's also full of calcium, magnesium and other important minerals and it's easily digested so it can go straight to where it’s needed. Bonus: rumor has it that bone broth also helps fight cellulite! Not for nothing has chicken soup has earned its reputation of being "Jewish penicillin," and now there is science to back up that claim.
Bottom line: there is a reason that bone broth is common in pretty much every culture in the world.
Making bone broth at home is a breeze. Essentially you put a bunch of meaty bones in a pot, cover them with cold water, bring it to a boil and then turn to a simmer for anywhere from 4-24 hours. The longer it simmers the more nutrients will be extracted from the bones and the richer the flavor will be. Adding about 1- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before you turn on the heat will actually help draw even more nutrients from the bone marrow - but if you don't have any on hand that's fine too. You will still get great health and taste benefits from your bone broth!
There's really no 'wrong' way to do it - it just depends on what you like. Sometimes I like to roast the bones for about 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven before boiling them. This adds another layer of flavor and makes the broth a deeper, richer color. And sometimes I can't be bothered and I just put it all in the pot and turn on the heat.
I usually make my broth on the stovetop but I know lots of people who use their crockpots and have great results.
- Grass-fed beef bones, leftover chicken carcass, or any mixture of bones from pastured, organic animals. I often add chicken feet, backs or necks if I have them as they add even more gelatin. They can usually be found at your local farmers market.
- Water (preferably filtered)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Optional: 1 large onion, cut into quarters with the skin on, 2 celery stalks with leaves on, 2 carrots washed but unpeeled, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns. Do not add salt until you are done cooking and then salt to taste.
Note: If you are roasting the bones beforehand, put them on a lined baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Put the bones (and any crispy bits at the bottom of the baking sheet) in a large stock pot and fill with cold water to cover the bones. Add apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer, stirring occasionally. You can use a slotted spoon to remove any scum that collects at the top of the pot. Cook for at least 4 hours, preferably longer. Chicken bones can cook for up to 24 hours and beef bones can go as long as 48 hours.
When it is cool, pull out the larger bones with some tongs and strain the broth through a sieve. Discard whatever remains.
Refrigerate overnight and then remove whatever fat congeals at the top. If I am making chicken stock I will occasionally use the chicken fat for making matzoh balls or for sautéing vegetables. Keeps for 4-7 days on the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.