There’s nothing quite like hot, homemade chicken soup on a cold day!
Not only is it warming and nourishing for the body, but also naturally healing and supportive for those who experience colds, flus and other ailments including auto-immune and joint disorders. Making broth also allows you to stretch food dollars out to make food last longer.
When you make chicken, using leftover bones and parts for soup is an excellent way to make use of these extra parts for a nutritious broth.
Over the last couple of years, most of what I buy where chicken is concerned are chicken pieces with bones or whole chickens. I used to buy mostly boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Now I want the whole chicken with bones, skins, tendons, connective tissue and other parts.
Why? Because I learned from traditional cooking methods that using the whole chicken with its skin and bones is great for your health. There are so many nutrients in the whole chicken, and the taste is really hard to compare to the bouillon cubes you can buy in the store, or trying to make a broth from boneless, skinless chicken parts. I actually tried that several times and wondered why on earth the broth didn’t have much taste. Now I know! Read more about why broth is so important and healing to the body, especially where chronic illness is concerned in Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
Chicken broth contains bio-available nutrients for health benefits
Broths are versatile and nutrient-dense foods that contain vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, and can be used for many recipes such as soup, in rice, in casseroles, sauces, and much more:
- Fat and protein – critical for cell building blocks
- Minerals – magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and others (although broth may contain small amounts of calcium, it should not be considered a broth is not an abundant or rich source of this mineral, however)
- Collagen – support for hair, nails, skin & joints
- Amino acids – glutamine, proline, arginine, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulphates (for the production of collagen)
- Gelatin – healing for digestion and immunity function
- Glutathione – metabolic health
- Sulfur, glycine, glutathione, and potassium – assist the body in cellular and liver detoxification
See section below – Ingredients and method are important – for a discussion of other important nutrients found in pasture-raised poultry that are critical for health and well-being.
Ingredients and method are important!
The best kind of chicken to use is pasture-raised, organic poultry. Minerals and nutrients from an organic, naturally-raised chicken carcass will be superior for your health. If you are unable to obtain this variety, a whole chicken from the grocery store still has some important minerals and nutrients.
Due to the diets of pasture-raised poultry, their meats and bones are richer in Omega 3 essential fatty acids and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (a cancer-fighter, fat burner that helps convert fat to muscle, and prevents heart disease), Vitamin E (important antioxidant and protects against heart disease) and Vitamin A (vision, immune function, bone metabolism, and skin health), Vitamin D (protects against cancer and heart diesease), folic acid (critical during pregnancy, helps to prevent heart disease,cancer, obesity, and allergies), and carotenoids (enhance immune system function and act as antioxidant).
Best option is to use organic vegetables, sea salt, and natural, organic, non-irradiated seasonings and pepper. If you cannot obtain these, scrub your vegetables very well in the sink to remove any residue from pesticides or chemicals. You will be using 2-3 stalks of chopped celery, 2-3 chopped carrots, and one small onion, chopped. For extra flavor and health benefit, add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic.
When you fill your pot with water, use filtered water to avoid problems with consuming tap water that contains fluoride, lead, arsenic, chlorine, and other harmful chemicals. Tap water does not “lose” its toxic, chemical content when it is boiled. In fact, boiling it only makes the chemical content like chlorine and fluoride more potent. If you must use tap water, fill your pot the day before and let it sit out overnight to allow those chemicals to evaporate.
- Cut up carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Set vegetables aside.
- Place chicken carcass or bones in large enough pot to fill just over your contents with water. Alternatively, you can also use a crock pot.
- Add a moderate amount of salt and pepper – you will have to do this to taste, and you will go back and taste before it is finished to see if you should add more.
- Add one or two bay leaves to the pot.
- Pour in a bit of organic, raw vinegar (apple cider vinegar is a good choice) to your pot to pull out minerals from the bones. It is a good idea to let your chicken sit in the pot for 30-60 minutes prior to turning on the heat to allow the apple cider to do its work.
- Place vegetables in the pot with the chicken carcass or bones. If needed, add more water to just cover the vegetables. Cover the pot with a lid. Put your pot on the stove, crock pot or hot plate with the heat setting on low. Over time your broth may start to “boil” and if it does, turn the heat down. Anytime broth boils for too long it can begin to damage the fats and amino acids in it, producing an “off” taste or smell.
- Somewhere during the cooking process, taste to make sure you have added enough salt and pepper.
- Allow your broth to stay on low heat for at least 8 hours before enjoying. You can allow the broth to stay on heat longer, but typically past 12 hours or so will be another cause of “off” flavor or smell in the broth.
Now you have a fantastically healthy broth. Add anything to the broth that you like for soup – chicken, turkey, ham, rice, vegetables, beans, or sprouted grain pasta. Be sure that if you are going to add legumes or grains that you soak them overnight before cooking with a bit of whey, yogurt, kefir, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.
You may also choose to add other seasonings or spices to your soup. Add fresh herbs such as rosemary or parsley at the end of your broth cooking time (about the last 20-30 minutes).
When you add ingredients, bring your broth to a boil again and then simmer your soup for an hour or so to infuse your creation with all the flavor of what you add in. Consume broth alone in a mug or use in soups, stews, casseroles, or to add to leftovers for warm up meats, poultry, rice, or vegetables.
If you are not going to consume the broth right away, store in the refrigerator or freeze for a later time. Read more about Tips for saving health, food and money in the kitchen here.