Elemental Nourishment: Medicinals Broths
“Good broth will resurrect the dead”- South American Proverb
Bone broth has long been revered for its health benefits, and has been used traditionally in cultures around the world. Science validates what our grandmothers knew, rich homemade broths help cure colds. Broth contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily, —not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, fat soluble Vitamins A,,D, K, E and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons--such as glucosamine, helpful for arthritis and joint pain. It is incredibly healing to the mucosa of the gut and is one of the best remedies for healing and restoring healthy gut function. I could go on and on, honestly I could write an entire book oh the benefits of bone broth, but I will leave it here for now.
I first really got into homemade stock and bone broth from Sally Fallon and her wonderful book “Nourishing Traditions” about a decade ago and have been hooked ever since! It is a staple in my household, and is always simmering away on the stove throughout the winter season. I use it as a base for my soups and stews, saute with it, cook my grains with it and generally infuse it into most meals, especially during the colder months. It feels deeply grounding and restorative to me, bringing about deep remembrance, of my grandmothers and all those who have come before, filling me with their wisdom and nourishment. And the smell! It is truly food for the soul.
There are many variations and ways to make broth. I will include a basic recipe here but there are SO many wonderful ingredients you can add to make your broth full of so much goodness! You can make more traditional bone broth, or if you are a vegetarian or vegan you can make a rich medicinal veggie broth with mushrooms and other nutrient dense foods! I add a variety of herbs, roots and mushrooms to my broth to infuse it with extra magic.
I start out by always having a bag in my freezer for “compost soup” as we call it in my house, or all of your veggie ends, onion skins, and general food scraps. I don’t add things that have too much distinct flavor like beets, or any spices. I like to keep the broth somewhat neutral so I can easily use it in any recipe and adjust the flavor as needed! If you make a habit of having all your veggie scraps in a bag in the freezer you have plenty of veggie goodness to add to your stock each batch, plus what is better than using every part of your food!
I also save all of my bones. Meaning, if I cook a whole chicken I will save the bones in a bag in the freezer as well, and once I have bones from a couple chickens I will make my broth. I also really love the rich flavor of a beef broth, so I purchase grass fed and finished beef bones (usually knuckle bones) from a farm down the road, but you can also check with your local butcher.
I use whatever is local and available and abundant. Goat and lamb bones are also common in my community so I love to incorporate those as well. Sourcing grass fed (and finished!) meat and bones is really important if you are choosing to make bone broth. I encourage you to get to know your local farmers! Go to farmers markets, local butchers, and co-ops to find out who sustainably raises organic pastured meat in your area. You would be surprised how cheap you can find good organic bones for stock, and you are supporting local small farms, which is super important too!
Medicinal Broth Recipe
- Bones! You can use chicken, turkey, fish, beef, goat or whatever is local and available. Like I mentioned before, grass fed and finished is super key! Place your bones in a pot and cover with water. Skip this step if you do not eat meat, obviously.
- Add ⅓ cup raw apple cider vinegar to the pot with the bones and water and let sit for 45 minutes. The vinegar helps to extract the vitamins and minerals from the bones, leaching them into the water. * if you are making veggie stock you can do this step with a pot full of veggies and mushrooms, but it is still best to let sit with the ACV.
- Bring the pot to a boil, skimming off any foam that forms on the top and reduce heat. Add veggie scraps + any other medicinal goodness! (if you don't have any scraps you can rough chop onions, carrots and celery to add to the pot)
- Some of my favorite things to add to my broth are nettles, burdock root, dandelion root, astragalus, calendula flowers, reishi mushroom, turkey tail mushrooms, peppercorns, bay leaves, fir tips, & any culinary herbs. Pretty much any herbs or mushrooms would work here! By adding medicinal plants and mushrooms you are adding a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and immunostimulants that further support your health and nourish your body. Get creative here! Use what you have and play around.
- Let the stock simmer for 24-72 hours. I usually simmer for about 24 hours for poultry, fish or veggie broth and up to 72 hours for beef, lamb or goat broth.
- Strain and put into jars for storage! Broth will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, or can be frozen for months (if it lasts that long!) I love having frozen broth on hand for when you start to come down with something, that way you can nourish yourself back to health without having to start from scratch!
- Make often and EnJOY
Okay, now that you have the basics for making some super potent medicinal broths I will leave you with a little soup inspiration!
This is one of my new favorite hearty, winter soups that is oh so delicious and you will come back to time and again! Its simple, nutrient dense, and could be adapted in a variety of ways depending on what you have on hand! This recipe is much more substantial that a traditional, brothy miso soup and makes a wonderful meal all on its own!
Having pre-made medicinal broth is the best (chances are you have it simmering on the stove already, right?) , and you will need to soak the Adzuki beans for 12 hours prior to making this dish. This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cook books, “At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen” by Amy Chaplin. If you have not seen her beautiful book, or her work I highly recommend it! Inspirational to say the least.
Hearty Winter Miso Soup
With Adzuki beans, Squash and Ginger
1/2 cup of Adzuki beans, soaked for at least 12 hours and rinsed.
4 cups medicinal broth
4 cups water
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced
2 inch piece of kombu seaweed
1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut in half and sliced in half moons
2 cups winter squash (any will do) diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup kale, thinly sliced
1 inch ginger, peeled and diced
1 handful of sea palm (you could use wakame here too)
3 tablespoons of red, or brown rice miso + 3 tablespoons chickpea miso
Scallions + cilantro to garnish
- Drain and rinse the beans. Place in a medium to large pot, cover with water and add the kombu and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are creamy and soft on the inside. Remove the kombu and compost, and drain the beans.
- Warm the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and ginger and saute for 3 minutes or until fragrant and translucent.
- Stir in the carrots, mushrooms and squash and saute for a minute more.
- Add the adzuki beans, the sea palm and the broth + water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked. Stir in the kale and simmer for a minute more and remove from heat.
- Ok, here is where you have options. I personally ladle my soup into bowls and let it cool below 110 degrees before adding my miso to keep all of the fermented goodness and enzymes intact. Some people might choose to dissolve the 6 tbsp of miso into the entire batch of soup, but at that point the vital nutrition from the miso is gone, and you are left with the flavor. This is up to you! Either way works and tastes delicious. I just add a bit of miso (to taste) to each bowl of soup I heat up and keep the pot miso free so I can get as much nutrition as possible out of my meal.
- Ladle into soup bowls, top with scallions and cilantro and serve!
This recipe serves 4-6 people