Just in time for the cold and flu season, Kandice Stellmon, nutrition consultant extraordinaire for Whole Family Wellness, shows us how to make delicious and oh-so-nutritious bone broth to nourish our our family’s bodies and souls. Read on to find out how!
Bone broth – YUM!!!
When I was growing up and we were sick, my mom microwaved a hot steaming bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Alphabet Soup and I was oh-so-happy. True, some of that joy had to do with the fact that I was home from school and lying on the sofa watching endless cartoons, but seeing my name spelled out in pasta was seriously awesome. Although the 50’s may have introduced the novelty of a canned good, homemade chicken soup has been around forever (well…probably not FOREVER…but a really long time) and for good reason. This amazingly delicious elixir seriously hits the spot when you are sick and don’t want to take a bite of anything, AND it’s good for you.
Possible Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Okay, it’s true that there aren’t a lot of studies ‘out there’ on bone broth and we don’t really know the exact mash up of nutrients that you are getting in each bite. With different cooking methods, bones and veggies, there are lots of variables. But here are some of the things we DO know and love about bone broth (oh and did I mention how DELICIOUS it is yet? Oh…yeah I did.)
- This study was able to show that chicken soup was able to thin nasal secretions better than hot water.
- This study from 2000 showed that chicken soup can inhibit some of the inflammatory cells that contribute to upper respiratory infections.
- All those bones and veggies are a nourishing source of protein and minerals.
- Drinking broth that has been seasoned with sea salt can help to rehydrate you when you are sick (and when you are not sick too!) even better than plain water.
- Broth is easy to digest.
- It contains the amino acids glycine and proline (although in small quantities), which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Bone broth is chock full of gelatin (this is what makes your broth look like jello when it cools!), which can be soothing and healing to your gut lining.
- Most importantly, it tastes amazing and took a lot of love to make. What is more healing than that?
Why Choose Homemade over Store Bought?
Once you’ve tried bone broth made from scratch, even the lure of noodle ABC’s won’t change your mind. This stuff is that awesome. But if you need more reasons, here you go:
- Homemade is simmered for much longer and tastes WAY better – seriously important!
- There is more sodium in store-bought broth and bouillon cubes.
- Many store-bought brands use MSG, yeast extracts, chicken ‘flavor’ – not sure what that is – as well as other artificial additives and preservatives. Remember, “natural flavors” is often code-word for MSG.
- Often store-bought varieties use powdered vegetables versus the real deal. You want the real deal for you and your kids.
Check out one of my favorite chicken broth recipes from the incredible Rebecca Katz and a few pictures of my own bone broth adventures. If you’ve never made bone broth before, it can feel like a ‘big-deal’, but it is so easy to make and worth the time! I like to freeze mine in ice cube trays and store in a freezer bag, ready to go when I need it. Don’t wait until you’re sick because if you’re like me, you will just want to stay in bed and pretend those aren’t your kids calling your name non-stop.
Once you’ve made your broth, there are lots of ways to enjoy it!
- Use your broth as a base for any soup. Add vegetables, beans, grains, or meat to your liking.
- Your broth can be used in place of water for just about anything – to cook rice, other grains, beans, simmer vegetables or meat – the possibilities are endless.
- You can add easy-to-digest grains like millet or brown rice (try making a congee, or rice porridge, with the broth – awesome! Check out this recipe from The Great Kosmic Kitchen )
- Include veggies like sweet potatoes that contain lots of potassium – perfect for rebuilding after the stomach flu.
- Experiment by adding slices of fresh ginger root, garlic or turmeric for an anti-inflammatory boost.
- My all-time favorite way to enjoy broth is to drink it like a tea – steaming hot in a coffee mug with a pinch of pink sea salt.
Feeling inspired yet? Here are two amazing cookbooks for more ideas:
Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook – seriously amazing cookbook from New York City chef Marco Canora
Nourishing Broth: An Old Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World from Weston A. Price experts
It’s easy, I promise!!!
I’ve outlined step-by-step illustrated directions with the recipe below. It’s not rocket science – the recipe doesn’t have to be perfect. Modify it all you want. It will be delicious every time! Now go make some chicken broth!!!
Basic Bone Broth Instructions
Step 1: Go get some bones (of course!)
Most bones will work! Ask your butcher for bones (he or she will be so impressed!), and use organic whenever possible. They can be bones from poultry, fish, shellfish, beef or lamb. You can use not only raw bones, but also cooked bones from a previous meal (think Thanksgiving leftovers and rotisserie chicken!). Use the whole carcass or just parts (good choices include backs, feet, ribs, necks, and knuckles). Don’t be squeamish – it’s ALL good!
Step 2: Throw Everything In
Pour in enough cold filtered water to just cover the bones, about 2 cups of water for every 1 pound of bones. Add a splash of vinegar and whatever vegetables and herbs you’d like to use, along with sea salt and peppercorns if using. Wash your veggies well, but don’t peel them or remove the tops – you only need to cut them so they will fit in the pot. The skin, peels and tops are full of minerals and flavor! Be careful not to add herbs like garlic that might lend a bitter flavor when cooked too long. You can add those later, when making scrumptious soup out of your broth.
Once everything is added, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Do not cover with a lid.
Step 3: Scoop the Scum, then Sit Back and Relax
Reduce any scum that has risen to the top. This step isn’t crucial, so if you forget, don’t worry about it. But your broth will taste much better if the scum has been skimmed (try saying that 50 times!).
Keep heat to a simmer, and now sit back and relax. Simmer time for chicken broth is 4-6 hours and 12-24 hours for beef (sometimes longer!). Note: for a really amazing beef or lamb broth, try roasting your bones before making your broth. SO good.
Step 4: Strain the Broth
Strain the broth through a colander or sieve. Line with cheesecloth for a clearer broth. Discard the bones.
Step 4a (Optional): Use the meat and veggies
You can save any bits of meat (most bones bought from the butcher will have small bits of meat still attached) and whatever vegetables you used to make your broth to use for soup. Chop up the veggies or puree them with broth for a thicker soup.
Step 5: Skim the Fat
You can do this either by pouring your broth into a nifty fat separator (I love kitchen gadgets!) or by letting the broth completely cool in the refrigerator and removing the fat once your broth as cooled. The fat will harden on top and will be easy to scoop off with a spoon.
Step 6: Voila! Cool and Enjoy!
Make sure your broth is cooled to room temperature before putting in the fridge or freezer. I like to make a quick ice bath by filling a big bowl with ice and then settling a smaller bowl inside of the ice. Pour your broth into the smaller bowl and allow the ice to quickly cool the broth to room temperature or cooler. Check out a picture here from The Kitchn Broth can then be stored in the refrigerator for about 5 days, or in the freezer for months (mine never lasts that long!). Cold broth will become gel-like in consistency but return to a delicious liquid when warmed.
Rebecca Katz’s Old-Fashioned Chicken Stock
6 pounds organic chicken backs, necks, bones, and wings
2 unpeeled white onions, coarsely chopped
4 unpeeled large carrots, cut in thirds
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
6 fresh thyme sprigs
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
8 black peppercorns
8 quarts cold filtered water, plus more if needed
(Splash of vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine, rice, balsamic) – Kandice’s suggestion
In a 12-quart or larger stockpot, combine the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Add the water, cover, and heat over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil. Lower the heat so the bubbles just break the surface of the liquid. Skim off the scum and the fat that has risen to the surface. Simmer partially covered for about 3 hours. Add more water if too much has evaporated.
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve or colander lined with unbleached cheesecloth into a clean pot or heat-resistant bowl. Bring to room temperature before covering and storing in the refrigerator. The next day, spoon off and discard any fat that has risen to the surface, and refrigerate or freeze.
Thanks for letting us partner in your journey to take charge of your child’s health, naturally! Leave a comment below on your bone broth adventures! We’d love to hear how you and your children are enjoying your bone broth.
And as always, if you found value in this post, please feel free to share with your friends, family and colleagues.
Until next time!
Elisa Song, MD