Broths and soups are some of the oldest and most nourishing foods that humans have ever eaten.
Nearly every culture on earth has its own variety.
Chinese Master Stock, Japanese Dashi, Italian Pestat di Fagnana, Korean Ox Bone, Mexican Sopa de Lima, Southeast Asian Fish Sauce, Jewish Chicken soup, and Vietnamese Pho are just a few of them.
One thing that each of these has in common is that they take time to cook if you want to do it right.
These foods are often a labor of love and recipes are passed down from generation to generation with unique local ingredients.
All of them often have tales of incredible healing powers. One South American proverb says “Good broth will resurrect the dead.”
Many of us have fond memories of parents serving us a warm bowl of soup when we were sick and have passed on that tradition with our own children.
I remember my mom making chicken soup with lots of carrots, celery, and parsley. I will never forget how careful you had to be with my mom’s soup because she did not seem to be overly fond of making sure all the bones were taken out.
I think she just wanted to make sure we got enough calcium, right mom?
So what makes good broths and soups so special?
Well besides the love that goes into making a good broth, often these soups have ingredients that have health and healing benefits.
The cooking of the ingredients for long periods of time often makes them easier to digest and many nutrients and health-promoting compounds more bioavailable.
Here is a great infographic from Northwestern Medicine showing some of the benefits of chicken soup:
One of my favorite benefits of a good broth or soup is often one that is not talked about but is the synergy between the ingredients. This concept is often found in herbalism as well. Sometimes ingredients, herbs, and foods combined together can have a synergistic effect not found when they are eaten or taken separately.
Some examples of food synergy include:
1. Vitamin C rich citrus fruit helping to improve the absorption of iron from plant foods.
2. The good fats in olive oil helps to improve the absorption of beneficial lycopene from tomatoes.
3. Compounds in lemon help to increase the absorption of catechins in green tea.
4. Eating sulfur-rich foods like garlic and onions with zinc-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds and red meat, helps to increase the absorption of zinc.
There are many more examples out there, so remember to get a wide variety of healthy whole foods in your diet every day.
As we enter fall and winter, there is no better time to start making your own soups. You can make large batches and freeze them in individual servings for quick healthy and delicious meals.
Don't be afraid to experiment and try new combinations. If you are looking for some new soup ideas, one of my favorite soup cookbooks is by the incredible Holly Shelowitz from Nourishing Wisdom. Check it out here.
Bone broth has become incredibly popular recently. Real bone broth is rich in nutrients and beneficial compounds such as collagen, vitamins A and K, zinc, iron, boron, manganese, potassium, and selenium, as well as beneficial fatty acids.
It is one of the best foods you can eat for your health. Real bone broth will help you feel better when your sick and calm an upset stomach like nothing else.
Here is a simple recipe for homemade bone broth that you can use as a base for your soups:
2 lbs of bones from a healthy source - Check out our shopping guide for great companies to get bones from.
2 chicken feet (optional) but adds more benefits
1 gal water
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar - The vinegar helps to draw the collagen out of the bones.
Salt and pepper to taste if desired.
If you are using raw bones, especially beef bones, it improves flavor to roast them in the oven first.
Place them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes at 350°F.
Place the bones in a large stockpot or the Instant Pot.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Cook for at least 10-12 hours, or until reduced by 1/3 or 1/2, leaving you with 6-8 cups of bone broth. The more it reduces, the more intense the flavor and the greater the number of nutritional benefits it will have. Twelve hours is the ideal amount of time unless you are using a pressure cooker, in which case the time will be much less.
Strain and use or store. You can freeze large batches of bone broth in individual servings or ice cubes to drink on a cold day or use them as a base to make quick and easy soups.
Many people do not have the time or desire to make their own bone broth but still want the benefits. There are a number of really wonderful companies out there selling real bone broth. At the same time though there are lots of companies selling fake bone broth. Unfortunately, the term bone broth is not regulated, so lots of companies are taking advantage of the popularity of it without doing the right thing.
Check out the shopping guide for our recommended brands of pre-made bone broth so you know that you are getting the real thing.
What about bone broth powders?
Bone broth powders (sometimes sold as collagen, gelatin, or bone broth protein powder) have become very popular. Quick and easy to use, most people rightfully so, think that these products provide the same benefits as bone broth and are simply just bone broth powdered and dried.
Unfortunately, most of these products are nothing like real bone broth.
Real bone broth powder should be made the same way you make it home, just like the recipe above.
Nothing should be added or taken away, except the water and no heavy processing or harsh drying methods should be used.
Many bone broth powders go through drying processes that can damage the final product. Look for products that are freeze-dried or refractance window dried.
Real bone broth powders would have all the nutrition found in properly made bone broths. They would also have a similar color. Real bone broth powder should have a brownish color. If your bone broth powder is white or lightly colored it is either heavily processed or not real bone broth powder.
Make sure your bone broth powder has organic apple cider vinegar in the ingredients list, because just like when making bone broth at home the vinegar is needed to draw out all the collagen from the bones.
When you mix the powder in hot water it should have a similar color and consistency to homemade bone broth. It should also gel up just like homemade bone broth when cold.
Real bone broth powder will not mix well into cold liquids. Bone broth powders that claim to mix well into cold beverages have been heavily processed or are not real bone broth.
If you see words like hydrolyzed or concentrate on the label that also means the product is not real bone broth or has been heavily processed.
Many products claiming to be bone broth powder have added thickeners, fillers, sweeteners, flavoring, and coloring agents such as guar gum, xanthan gum, natural flavors, etc. These products should be avoided as it shows you are not getting pure bone broth powder.
Look for products that are made from pastured chickens or from grass-fed cows sourced from small family farms.
We do not need to sacrifice the rainforest to get good bone broth.
We have been getting asked for bone broth powder for a long time. We could not find one that met all of our standards: ethically sourced, properly made, and free of the contaminants found in many bone broth powders.
Finally, after searching and searching, we found a small family-owned company in California, whose products you can see and purchase here.
They source the ingredients from small family farms in the United States.
The broth is simply made, just bones slowly simmered with a splash of organic apple cider vinegar over low heat until a delicious, rich broth is made. Just like you would make at home.
Then the broth is cooled and spread out on sheets, after which it travels through a freeze drier.
After drying it is packed into packets and shipped out. Nothing is added or taken away.
Simple and delicious.
So on the next cold day make yourself a nice pot of soup or a simple cup of bone broth, take a deep breath, and let the broth soothe you.
Remember, broth is beautiful and so are you!