Your Grandmother was right.
About a good many things, I’m sure. But mostly I reckon she was right about boiling up bones to make broth. This wholesome elixir, rich in minerals and collagen, is relatively inexpensive to make, but has a swathe of high profile devotees, including Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s just about the most unlikely beauty food on our winter menu.
In New York , they’re queuing up for a cup of designer broth at storefront bone mecca, Brodo. So why has everyone lost their business for grandma’s soup? Is it because there’s something ancient and known about this nutritional ‘it’ food? Perhaps it’s because it provides a gentler, cuddlier nutritional hit than a kale smoothie or a bracing shot of wheatgrass. Perhaps we all just want just want a cuddle.
Why is bone broth good for you?
There’s a reason variations on the humble chicken soup are produced the world over at the first sign of a sniffle, bone broth is known to boost immunity. Amino acids, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and other trace minerals are all present here in a readily available form. Gelatin-rich broth also loves your digestive system, making it a favourite for anyone with sensitive stomachs. Gelatin (essentially collagen, but cooked) is abundant here, making bone broth the perfect building block for healthy joints, teeth, hair, skin and nails. Some even suggest bone broth for battling cellulite, because it is extremely high in connective tissue-smoothing amino acids.
Your best broth
Good bone broth is all about good ingredients. Remember: anything you extract from the bones will become more concentrated, so it’s worth taking time to source bones from the healthiest, most naturally-raised animals possible. Smile sweetly at your favourite butcher and ask if they have any grass-fed cattle bones or organic/pastured poultry carcasses. You can also use the leftover bones from a roast.
Once again, the nutritional quality you put in here will come back in the quality of your broth. I like to keep a zip-lock bag in the freezer for any organic vegetable cuttings that I would have otherwise thrown away – onions (the outer parts are the most phytochemical rich), carrot tops, celery ends, sweet potato peels, lonely thyme or parsley stalks. I then try to use these in my broths.
Yes, vinegar. Adding a dash of apple cider vinegar to the mix helps extract the maximum amount of minerals from your bones.
Did your Nanna have a recipe for bone broth? Of course not! But here’s a good place to start:
1. Around 1-2kg of high-quality animal bones in a large cooking pot (it’s okay to mix animals). It’s also worth noting that big bones such as knuckles or chicken feet will contain more cartilage and therefore more collagen. You want to be able to cover the bones completely with cold water and still have some space at the top of the pot.
2. Vegetables. Add a few cups of chopped onions, celery, carrot trimmings, herb stalks. Work with what you’ve got. Veggie off-cuts work brilliantly.
3. A spoonful of black peppercorns.
4. 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
5. Cover with cold water.
6. Pop on the lid of your pot and bring to the boil, then reduce to the most gentle of simmers.
7. Leave on a very low heat for 6- 24 hours. The longer you leave the bones, the more goodness they’ll release.
8. Cool and strain. You can skim the fat off the top and use it to roast veggies, or leave it on top of the broth to protect whilst it’s stored in the fridge.
9. Store in the fridge (up to one week, depending on the age of your bones when you cooked them) or freeze. You can skim off the fat, use it for roasting veggies, or keep it on to protect the broth while you store. If your broth appears jelly-like when cooled, don’t panic - you’ve reached gelatin (collagen) nirvana. When you reheat the broth, it’ll return to a liquid state.
Prepare some on Sunday to use throughout the week in soups, for cooking absorbent grains such as quinoa, or to simply sip from a mug with fresh herbs and a little garlic.
Asian Beetroot Bone Broth with Soba
Here’s a visually stunning, nutritionally dense, easy-peasy lunch to make with your bone broth.
Make some thin, long(ish) raw beetroot ‘noodles’ by peeling and processing the raw beets in either your food processor, spiraliser, or mandolin. Add these to the bottom of an empty soup bowl with some separately cooked buckwheat noodles (cooked to pack instructions, plunged in cold water and drained), sliced spring onions and chopped fresh chilli.
Warm your bone broth, then flavour it to taste with a combination of soy/tamari, fish sauce, crushed garlic, sriracha, lime juice or miso paste. Pour the hot, flavoured broth over top of your beetroot, buckwheat noodles, spring onions and chillis and top with a generous handful of coriander leaves and a wedge of lime.
Story, images and styling by Josie Taylor @ The Fresh Ginger