You may have heard the buzz about bone broth being the latest, must-have health tonic.
I actually know bone broth as good old chicken soup, otherwise known as Jewish penicillin. It’s something which I’ve eaten religiously (if you’ll excuse the pun) since my mum weaned me on it when I was six weeks old (things were different back in the early 70s).
Summer or winter, and whatever the occasion, I can never get enough chicken soup. There’s nothing to beat it if you’ve got a cold or are just feeling a bit rubbish.
I still remember the very first time I attempted to make chicken soup. Mum had gone into hospital for a back operation so it fell upon me, a witless 12-year-old, to step up to the (hot) plate. Well, let’s just say that all did not go strictly to plan. You see, I placed the chicken in a soup pan and I switched on the hob and I wandered off. And that’s it. I’m ashamed to say that it had not occurred to me that some degree of water might be called for. I can still recall my surprise at finding, in place of the golden liquid I was accustomed to, a luminous white chicken with a completely charred underside.
Happily my chicken soup has improved significantly since that disastrous first attempt (although my mum, naturally, still makes the best chicken soup).
Apart from it being delicious, what’s so special about homemade chicken soup? In short, it’s easily digestible, helps heal the lining of your gut, contains masses of valuable nutrients and is brilliant for speeding healing and recuperation from illness. If you’re into the science bit, here’s more detail on what chicken soup/bone broth can do for you:
Fights colds and flu
Research shows that eating chicken soup during a respiratory infection reduces the number of white blood cells, which are the cells that cause flu and cold symptoms.
Heals a leaky gut
The gelatine in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients.
Reduces joint pain and inflammation
The glucosamine in bone broth can actually stimulate the growth of new collagen, repair damaged joints and reduce pain and inflammation.
Improves skin, hair and nails
The collagen and gelatine in bone broth support hair growth and help to keep your nails strong.
Helps with bone formation, growth and repair
The calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in bone broth help our bones to grow and repair.
Bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline.
Promotes sleep and calms the mind
The amino acid glycine found in bone broth can be very calming.
How to make it:
Making bone broth/chicken soup is actually very quick and simple – and then you just leave it for a very long time (some recipes even call for 24 hours but I aim for 8 to 10 hours). You can find lots of different ways online to make bone/broth chicken soup so it’s worth researching one that suits you and that you like.
For now, here’s how I usually make mine:
- Put a whole chicken in a large soup pan/stock pot. Make sure it has a tight fitting lid – otherwise it will evaporate. You can use a normal chicken or a hen (also known as a boiler or stewing hen), or a carcass or the leftover carcass of a roast chicken. This sounds a bit grim…but if you add extra chicken feet it will increase the amount of gelatine you get.
- Add a roughly chopped carrot, an onion, a leek and a stick of celery.
- Add a few grinds of Himalayan pink salt (don’t add any of those nasty chicken stock cubes).
- I also add about a table spoon of raw apple cider vinegar. You can’t taste it but it helps leach all those valuable minerals from the bones into the soup.
- Cover with water and bring to the boil.
- Stick it in the oven on a low heat (say 100 degrees) overnight.
- Once ready, strain and keep in the fridge for up to five days or freeze for later use.
You can also use a slow cooker, which I actually find easier. It doesn’t tie up your oven or use as much energy and you can just forget about it. For the soup I made last night (in the picture above), I chucked everything in my slow cooker and left it to cook overnight.
If you use a whole chicken, you can put the bits of chicken back in the soup if you like or use for a curry or whatever.