Have you ever been told to eat a bowl of chicken soup when you're sick?
I bet you have. But do you know why?
It's truly an ancient tradition. But the truth is, not all chicken soups will do the trick. Especially those found in a can.
Traditionally chicken soup was made by simmering vegetables, meat and bones to create a nutrient rich broth (a.k.a. bone broth). However, most commercial soups today simply use broth made from water and chicken “flavor.”
Bone broth has been used throughout humankind for its rich flavor and healing powers. Many cultures use it to cure illnesses, such as colds and flu. In fact, bone broth is sometimes referred to as Jewish penicillin. It's also been prized for its ability to treat conditions related to the digestive tract, skin, joints, lungs, muscles, and blood.
And fortunately, bone broth is making a comeback.
Bone Broth Nutrition
Bone broth contains a soup (pun intended) of health promoting nutrients in highly absorbable forms. Thus, it's much more potent (and enjoyable) than taking a variety of synthetic supplements.
Below are several key nutrients in bone broth along with their health benefits:
Minerals are essential to life. They play many important roles in our bodies, such as nerve signaling and the initiation of most enzymatic processes in our bodies. They also impact the health of our digestive system, heart, cells, and bones.
Bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicone, sulfur, and a variety of trace minerals.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and have numerous responsibilities when it comes to our health. Bone broth specifically contains high concentrations of glycine and proline.
Glycine acts as an antioxidant, which protects our cells from free radical damage. It also aids in detoxification as well as wound healing, digestion, sleep, memory, and performance. It keeps our muscles strong and is used to make glutathione (another powerful antioxidant).
Proline is essential for healthy skin and joints. It also helps to repair the lining of the digestive system.
Collagen and Gelatin
Collagen is a protein found in bones as well as other connective tissues. Its name comes from the word “kolla,” which means glue. Essentially, its main role is to hold the body together.
When collagen dissolves in water, it forms gelatin. Gelatin has been studied extensively and is often used to heal and soothe the digestive tract, support bone health, overcome food allergies and sensitivities, improve digestion and detoxification, and boost the body’s natural production of collagen.
Glucosamine lubricates our joints and provides a cushion within them. Expensive supplements are often used to treat conditions involving bone and joint pain, but bone broth is an all natural (and effective) alternative.
Along with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate supports healthy bones and joints. But it's also essential for heart and skin health as well as maintaining optimal cholesterol levels.
Chicken Bone Broth Recipe
Bone broth can be made using beef, poultry, lamb, pork or fish bones. There are many recipes available online. Below is an easy to make chicken bone broth recipe:
- 1 whole organic chicken
or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as carcass, necks, and wings plus gizzards
- 2-4 chicken feet
- 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 T raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 shitake mushrooms
- 1-2 pieces kombu seaweed
- 1” piece of turmeric root, sliced (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 peppercorns
- 1 bunch parsley
If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces.
Place other ingredients into a cheesecloth or jelly bag for easy removal later. Otherwise place carcass and parts in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all ingredients except parsley.
Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12-18 hours. The longer the stock cooks the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
If using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in the refrigerator or freezer.
Delicious Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet
- Sip it plain (or seasoned with sea salt and minced spring onions)
- Use it in soup, stew, sauce and gravy recipes
- Use it instead of water or other liquids to cook grains, steam vegetables, make mashed potatoes and bake casseroles
To make a “miso-style” soup, follow this recipe:
- 1 C broth
- 1 fresh mushroom, diced
- 1 spring onion, diced
- 1/4 cup shredded carrot
- sea salt to taste
- Heat broth on stovetop
- When broth is fully heated add remaining ingredients
- Heat on medium 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are warmed
I also encourage people to pour cooled bone broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Bone broth ice cubes are a great nutrition boosting addition to smoothies. They also give smoothies a thicker consistency.
To sum it up:
Consuming bone broth on a regular basis is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do to support your health.
- It contains a variety of easily absorbable nutrients;
- It warms your heart and your soul;
- It's easy to make; and
- It's absolutely delicious!
Bergner, P. (1997). The healing power of minerals, special nutrients, and trace elements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub.
Daniel, K. (2003, June 18). Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-broth-is-beautiful-essential-roles-for-proline-glycine-and-gelatin/
Fallon, S. (2000, January 1). Broth in Beautiful [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
Fallon, S., Enig, M. G., Murray, K., & Dearth, M. (2001). Nourishing traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub.
Vital Proteins, Why Collagen, Retrieved March 27, 2017