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 wonder meal, but you can clean out your produce bin in the process!
The key to a truly nourishing soup is homemade bone broth. Properly prepared broths are nutrient dense, providing multiple minerals from the bones, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables. Actually adding a small amount of something acidic like vinegar helps to entice the minerals out into the broth, particularly the foundational ones like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Bone broth is also a great source of collagen and gelatin. Because they are rich sources of amino acids they help with things like healing the lining of the intestinal tract and promoting healthy joints and skin to name just a few of their benefits.
While there are finally some higher quality brands of bone broth available for purchase they tend to be on the pricey side. The more conventional broths or stocks that you can buy aren’t cooked low and slow enough to extract the amount of nutrients possible and often contain many undesirable ingredients like corn syrup, sugar, monosodium glutamate, caramel coloring, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and more!
The budget-friendly answer is to prioritize making your own bone broth whenever you can. Cool thing is it’s simpler than you may think! We start by slowly gathering bones and pieces of vegetables that would normally be composted in a silicone bag in the freezer throughout the month so that we already have a good base when it comes time to make it.
To provide the full picture here is a simple recipe for chicken bone broth recipe inspired by Nourishing Traditions. (If I could only keep one of my cookbooks, this one by Sally Fallon would be the one!)
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Stockpot, crock pot, or pressure cooker
- Large, slotted spoon
- Fine strainer
- Large bowl
- Mason jars (any size but pint and quarts preferred)
(Can double, triple, or even quadruple if you have a large stock pot):
- 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 (we tend to use apple cider vinegar)
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots coarsely chopped
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- Optional organ meats (heart, kidneys, liver, etc.)
- Optional medicinal herbs (ashwagandha, astragalus, turmeric, ginger, codonopsis…)
Chop up all your chicken parts and throw them in your stock pot. Add the water, vinegar, vegetables (except for parsley), optional organ meats, & 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. That being said if you if you use whole, fresh chicken parts you’ll want to remove them with a slotted spoon after about 2 hours of simmering, pull the meat off the bones setting it aside, and return the bones and cartilage to the pot until done.
Put the parsley in for the last ten minutes of cooking. When done and slightly cooled remove the bones with a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl, then ladle into Mason jars. Let the jars sit until they are completely cool, then refrigerate or freeze.
- You can make bone broth in a large crock pot if you don’t want to use the stove.
- Using a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot, can also speed up the process without sacrificing nutrient levels. We usually set it on high for 4 hours.
- Save chicken carcasses and bones in the freezer until you have about 2-3 (or more) chickens’ worth.
- If you’re cooking it on the stove 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.
- Freeze your broth in different portion sizes in Mason jars. I use pint and quart sizes, even half gallon if I have a lot.
- If freezing DO NOT fill your jars all the way to the top! When it freezes it expands & will crack the jars. Leaving about 1 ½ inches is sufficient.
- 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 bone broth will become thick when it’s refrigerated because of the gelatin. This is a wonderful 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.