I never had any interest in bone broth until I had a “why” – and that “why” originated with Deep Nutrition, but I’ve since read a lot more about the wonders of bone broth from many other sources, various books and a boatload of websites. I’m completely convinced that bone broth is well worth adding to my diet.
Why Eat Bone Broth?
But what about you, dear reader? I’m no food scientist, who am I to tell you what you should be eating? I can tell you what I’ve read – that when you cook bones, cartilage and ligaments in water for a long time, you’ll make a bone stock that is rich in minerals, vitamins and amino acids that are easily absorbed by the body and (believed by many) to be especially good for our own bones and joint health. If you aim to use food as medicine, it’s rumored that bone broth can help with arthritis, support your adrenals, bones and teeth and immune system too.
But I feel a little funny making these health claims about bone broth when I haven’t conducted my own studies. I haven’t fed a bunch of lab rats my homemade chicken soup and asked them how their knees are feeling. I haven’t poked myself in the adernal glands to see if they’re plump and healthy. (I have no idea if that’s what adrenal glands are supposed to feel like or if I’m even supposed to be poking them…)
And so, if you choose not to believe the bone broth hype? That’s OK. Homemade chicken soup made with bone broth is unbelievably delicious. That much I know is true.
Whether you want the supposed health benefits of bone broth or you just want to some really good chicken soup – making your broth from bones is where it’s at. You can make an amazing chicken stock from your leftover bones, skin and gnarly parts of your roasted chicken. I’ve roasted a whole chicken two or three times, but let’s be frank; cooking a whole chicken is a huge job. A huge, messy job.
I just want some bone broth, Frank.
And so, I’ve made peace the skin-on, bone-in organic chicken thighs and breasts they sell at Wegmans.
It’s still got some muss and fuss involved, but muss and fuss that’s a lot more manageable with a lot less cursing when you start carving into your whole roasted chicken only to discover it’s not done yet.
(I don’t even want to talk about it.)
There are probably as many ways to make chicken soup as there are ways to make chocolate chip cookies. Everybody has their own way of doing it – many paths to the same place, yes? Once you’ve made chicken soup (or chocolate chip cookies, and why has no one made cookie broth yet?) a half dozen times or so, you start to find your own groove and your own personalized approach to it.
If you’ve never made bone stock before, this method is working well for me as a bone stock newbie. It’s is pretty simple and could be a good place to start. It makes a very delicious, gelatinous broth. (It should gel when it’s cool, that’s a good thing! At least that’s what the books tell me.)
First thing in the morning, I pop my chicken thighs into the crock pot with sliced garlic, dried rosemary, salt and pepper and a cup or so of water.
When cooked on high, the meat is done in about 3 – 4 hours. At that point I pull the meat off the bone and move the cooked chicken to a separate storage container. If I’ve got chicken breasts, I’ll put those in the oven at the same time that I start the thighs in the crock pot. The thighs are done in about an hour, and once the meat is carved off bone, I set the bones aside for the stock until thigh meat in the crock pot is done.
Once all the meat is cooked and I’m left with a pile of skin, bones and any other miscellaneous chicken parts, I put them all back into the crock pot with another 8 – 12 oz of water (enough to be sure all bones and parts are underwater) and set it to low. This is also a good time to add a bay leaf and any other vegetable scraps for flavor – carrots, onion, celery are pretty typical – plus a little apple cider vinegar. The acid in the vinegar is supposed to help pull more calcium and minerals from the bones – so splash a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into your water if you like.
And then walk away. Well, put the cover back on your crock pot first, THEN you can walk away. Let it cook all day – usually 8 to 10 hours for the broth itself when all is said and done.
When your broth is done (or whenever you’re ready to go to bed, whichever comes first) place a colander or strainer over a large bowl and strain your broth from the chicken parts and vegetable scraps.
Move broth to an air tight container and transfer to the fridge to cool.
I let mine cool overnight to allow the fat and broth to separate, making it easy to remove when I’m ready to turn my broth into soup.
Yes, fat is our friend, but chicken fat is high in PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids) – which are very fragile and oxidize easily (oxidized fats are no good for us!) and so I choose to scrape the chicken fat off with a spoon and toss it.
And from there? Let’s make chicken soup! Or just heat your broth and sip it like a savory tea, that’s not so bad at all.
I most typically go the chicken soup route because it’s just so. dang. good. I dump the stock into a soup pot and simmer carrots, celery, onions until they’re nearly soft, adding the chicken at the very end, heat through and serve!
The big kids will occasionally eat the chicken I make, but chicken soup is still too “new”. Zak remains a vegetarian, and so for the time being I’ve been making chicken bone broth soup for me, me and me.
I did offer my littlest mister some cooked carrots and chicken from my latest batch though -
let’s just say there were no complaints.
(The boy has yet to turn down ANYTHING I’ve offered him!)
Are you bone broth believer? If you’re curious, here are some words to click that will take you to places over the world wide web for some further reading:
Cooking with Bones at Mark’s Daily Apple
Bone Broth for Health Building at The Jade Institute
Broth is Beautiful by Sally Fallon
Nourishing Traditions (book) by Sally Fallon
and of course, Deep Nutrtion by Dr. Catherine Shanahan
Are you a chicken soup making pro? Tell us your secrets! Tell us your tips! I want to talk about soup.