There are a couple factors that elevate bone broth from a soup base to a healing elixir:
While most bone broths contain similar base ingredients including onions, garlic, carrots, celery and joint bones, it can be infused with functional ingredients like chicken hearts, mushrooms, seaweeds, herbs and spices for additional nutritional benefit.
I like using chicken necks and feet as the bone base for my broths, because these parts contain many joints containing collagen and glutamine for healing. I also add chicken hearts for an infusion of CoQ10. Coenzyme Q10 - shortened CoQ10 - is a compound that plays an important role in energy metabolism in the body. It is also a potent antioxidant and contributes significantly to fertility and cardiovascular health.
Mushrooms are one of few foods containing vitamin D. They also contain polysaccharaides (aka fibers) that nourish the microbiota and other powerful compounds that promote hormone balance, support immunity and mental wellness. I most often throw a couple dried shiitake mushrooms into my bone broth, but there's benefits even in white button mushrooms. Use what's accessible!
Seaweeds contain many minerals, including iodine, which is scarce in the Midwest, as well as essential fatty acids. Adding a couple inches of kombu, dulse or other seaweed to your bone broth is like adding a multi-mineral.
The herbs and spices I use in my bone broth somewhat depends on my plan for it. For example, I'll make a broth with lemongrass, ginger, turmeric and cilantro for southeast Asian-inspired soups and dishes. For my Mediterranean cooking I'll use bay laurel, black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and dried basil. All of these flavorful ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties.
To draw the most nutritional benefit out of the ingredients you put in your stock pot, simmer on low heat for a long time. My preferred method is to fill my stockpot with my bone broth ingredients and simmer it overnight on my stovetop. You can also use a crockpot or pressure cooker to make bone broth.
What you'll notice is that in addition to making a rich, delicious infusion for your cooking, your bone broth will have a jelly-like consistency when it cools. This is evidence of collagen and gelatin breaking down from the joint meats you put in your pot and infusing into your broth. The consistency will melt into a drinkable, cookable golden liquid that I hope you fawn over as much as I do.
Use bone broth for cooking whole grains and beans, soups and stews, steaming or water sautéing vegetables, or drinking like tea. There are many variations for the recipe below, so feel free to experiment and find a method that works best for you. This is a largely unattended process and easy to incorporate into your weekly cooking tasks.
Basic Bone Broth
- 1 chicken carcass or 1 bundled chicken back and necks* (about 1.5#)
- 2 carrots, washed and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into chunks (leave the skin on for a nice caramel color - if there isn’t too much dirt!)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp dried herbs or 1/2 cup fresh: parsley, thyme, oregano, marjoram…whatever you have on hand and want to add
- 1 handful of dry Asian mushrooms like shiitake (optional)
- several cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1” strip Kombu sea vegetable (optional)
- Throw all the ingredients in a large soup pot.
- Cover with water until everything is submerged by 1 inch.
- Cover the pot with its lid and place over medium-low heat. Avoid boil, but keep the broth on a low simmer for several hours or overnight.
- After cooking, take the bones and meat out and sieve the stock through a fine mesh strainer to get the smaller pieces out.
- Refrigerate what you will use in 5 days and freeze the rest in portion-sized containers (pints, quarts, or larger) once the broth has cooled. If you have broth thawed more than 5 days, boil for 3 minutes before using.
Jesse Haas, CNS, LN is a licensed functional nutritionist and certified health coach. She was a founding partner of Wellness Minneapolis and was an active practitioner with the clinic from 2014-2022. To connect with her regarding functional nutrition and health coaching services, please follow this link.