I don’t know about you but when it starts getting cold outside warm, nourishing soup immediately comes to mind. I not only love the fact that you can pack a lot of nutrition into a compact, one pot to wash meal, but you can clean out your produce bin in the process!
The key to a truly healthy soup is homemade bone broth. Properly prepared broths are nutrient dense, providing minerals from the bones, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables. Adding acidic wine or vinegar helps to pull out these minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Bone broth is also a great source of gelatin which aids in digestion, help to heal the lining of the intestinal tract, and is a rich source of amino acids. Conventional stocks or broths that you can buy off the shelf often contain many undesirable ingredients: corn syrup, sugar, monosodium glutamate, caramel coloring, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil… The list goes on.
Here is a recipe for simple chicken bone broth adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. (If I could only keep one of my cookbooks, this would be the one!)
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Stockpot, crock pot, or pressure cooker
- Large, slotted spoon
- Fine strainer
- Large bowl
- Mason jars (any size but pint and quarts preferred)
- 1 whole, organic, pastured chicken or 2-3 pounds chicken bones with or without bits of meat
- 2 chicken feet (available at some stores or request from your butcher)
- 4 quarts filtered water
- 2 T vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots coarsely chopped
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- Optional organ meats & herbs (ashwagandha, astragalus, turmeric, ginger, codonopsis…)
Throw all of your chicken parts (chopped up if possible) in a pot, add the water, vinegar, vegetables (except for parsley), optional organ meats, & root herbs. Let sit for a half hour, then bring to a boil and remove the scum/foam that rises to the top with a spoon. No need to remove the floating fat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer, more flavorful, & nourishing it will be. Put the parsley in for the last ten minutes of cooking. Remove the whole chicken pieces with a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl, then ladle into Mason jars. Let the jars sit until they are cool, then refrigerate or freeze.
- Save chicken carcasses and bones until you have about 2-3 (or more) chickens’ worth, then get your stock started on a morning where you don’t have to leave the house. It can simmer all day with practically no intervention from you.
- Chop the bones and cartilage in small pieces to enhance the nutrients and gelatin in your broth.
- If you used a whole chicken, don’t leave the meat in there for more than about 2 hours. Remove the chicken, remove the meat and reserve, and put the bones back in the broth to cook.
- You can make stock in a large crock pot very easily too if you don’t want to use the stove. Just cook it as long as you would simmer a pot on the stove. Using a pressure cooker speeds up the process. We usually set it for 4 hours.
- Freeze in different portion sizes in Mason jars. I use pint and quart sizes, even half gallon if I have a lot.
- Do not fill all the way to the top because when it freezes it expands & will crack the jar. Leave 1 ½ inches.
- Don’t omit the vinegar! This step draws the minerals out of the bones.
- You can also freeze in Ziploc-like silicone bags to save space. Make sure broth is cool first, seal well, & stack flat in the freezer.
- A good stock will jell completely when it’s refrigerated. This is a great thing, so do not throw it out!
- If your stock does not gel, do not despair. Next time chop up the bones or add some additional chicken feet or chicken backs. (Can be bought separately at the store.) You might also want to simmer longer in the future.
- If you refrigerate your chicken stock and there’s a lot of solid fat on top, separate it and save it. It’s great for cooking with or using in gravy.
China Rose Zamora is a functional nutritional therapist, clinical herbalist, & yoga teacher who has worked in the holistic health field since 1998 and has proudly served her community as China Rose Wellness since 2009. When she’s not coaching women to rise to their health potential, practicing herbal alchemy, traveling the country via mobile tiny house teaching inspirational workshops to demystify wellness, or co-facilitating transformational retreats with AJ, her-eco warrior partner in adventure, you can find her meandering on the nearest hiking trail or jammin’ at a local, live music venue. China Rose is a firm believer that wellness encompasses everything that nourishes us, body & soul!