A beautiful broth is one of our kitchen essentials for both nutritional and taste purposes. Bone broths provide an incredible source of nutrition. Exceptionally high in minerals and collagen, bone broth is an amazing healing food for the gut lining, skin, joints and connective tissue in general. It’s a great source of easily absorbable protein (it actually has a “protein-sparing” effect, which means you can get away with having less protein in your diet, while still reaping the benefits of a higher protein diet), and as it’s been slow cooked it requires very little digestion, making all the nutrients easy to absorb.
Bone broth is particularly good for those of you with gut inflammation, injuries (such as sporting injuries), post surgery, arthritis and compromised immune function. There’s a reason why chicken and veggie soup is a traditional remedy for flu! In vitro (test tube) studies indicate that chicken broth may have antiviral and immune boosting activity. In 2000, scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha studied the effect of chicken soup on the inflammatory response in vitro. They found that some components of chicken soup inhibit neutrophil migration that may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could temporarily ease the symptoms of illness.
Broth is a key food for those on the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet and other gut healing diets. The collagen provides wonderful healing protein for the gut wall, helping to reduce inflammation.
Some people are a bit squeamish at the though of slowly simmering a pot of bones for 24 hours. As an ex-vegetarian I can relate! However there are a few things that have really shifted my perception of preparing bone broths over the years. As always, I’m a stickler for source. I truly believe for health, social, ethical and environmental reasons that it’s important to source meat and animal products, such as eggs, butter and ghee, from well treated and cared for animals. This has far reaching effect on many things from nutritional content to environmental impact (remembering that we are part of the environment, and what we do to it, we are in fact doing to ourselves). I also believe that it is important that we both minimise waste, and particularly when it comes to animals, that we truly appreciate having this animal nourish us, and heal us. With this in mind, using all parts of an animal that has been killed for our nourishment is a part of honouring and respecting that animal. Why should part of the animal be wasted because of how we feel? In traditional cultures, it was actually the bones and organs of animals that were regarded most highly – not the eye filets and breasts! And for good reason – these parts of the animals have far more nutrition, have a better nutritional profile, and are easier to digest than muscle meats.
Making your own broth is super simple and a frugal way to pack a lot of nutritional punch to your meals. It also means you can happily avoid using stock cubes, powders and cartons which invariably contain MSG and often other undesirable additives.
You can drink broths as is, just seasoned with good quality salt and pepper, you can make a simple clear broth soup by pouring hot broth over a bowl of chopped green veggies (the heat from the broth will be enough to lightly cook the veg), or you can make nice creamy pureed soups with it. You can also use broth in any savoury dish where you would normally add water, for example in bolognese, or cook your quinoa in it, or sautee your brussel sprouts in it! Yum!
I recommend making a big batch of broth and then freezing a portion or two, so that you have some back up in the freezer when times are busy or you need an emergency meal. I like to use a slow cooker (ceramic dish, no teflon please!) as I can happily leave it on overnight and during the day while I’m out at work, however you can use a large pot on the stove top as well.
Here’s my simple broth recipe.
- About 2-3kg of bones (beef marrow, knuckle bones, meaty rib, neck bones, chicken wings and feet – whatever the butcher will give you)
- Roughly 3-4 litres of cold filtered water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 carrots roughly chopped
- 2 onions chopped in half
- 1-2 celery sticks or left over bits of raw veg that need to be used up.
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 2 tspns whole black pepper corns
- Optional: a little bundle of fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley, sage.
- Pop all ingredients in your slow cooker or large stock pot.
- Bring to a gentle boil and remove any scum that bubbles to the top.
- Reduce heat to a very slow simmer, pop the lid on, and simmer for 24hrs.
- 10 minutes out from finishing the broth, it's quite nice to add some additional fresh parlsey IF you have it on hand, to provide extra minerals and flavour.
- Remove from heat.
- Strain broth through a strainer or remove the bones and veggie with a slotted spoon.
- Store in glass jars / containers in the fridge or freezer.
- When putting glass into the freezer, leave room at the top of the jar for the contents to expand, and wait until the broth has frozen before tightly capping the lid. This will prevent cracking the glass.
- The vinegar is important to help draw minerals out of the bone - so be sure to include it!