The seasons are shifting, days are getting shorter and nights colder. We start revising our menus; instead of barbecues and salads, our minds drift toward nourishing, comforting foods like soup.
Soup conjures up visions of a delicious-smelling pot bubbling away on the back of the stove. Grandma threw in chicken bones, leftover bits of vegetables, herbs, and let it sit all day. The end result was a stock so thick that, when chilled, a spoon could stand upright in the pot. That became the basis of tasty, warming meals.
Making soup these days often starts with purchasing a can or box of broth from the grocery store that seems to provide everything we need. But what's really in there? And is it something that will support and nourish the body? Sadly, most conventional packaged broths are made with chemicals and contain ingredients like monosodium glutamate, transfats, genetically modified corn or soy, and a whole raft of chemical preservatives. None of which is a healthy choice.
What we don't realize is that we're missing vital nutrients, minerals, and essential collagen that support our body in so many ways. Soup stock, made the old- fashioned way, provides a nutrient rich liquid that can heal the gut, replenish essential nutrients, and support proper digestion. Scientists have found that our gut produces approximately 80 percent of our neurotransmitters, and sometimes refer to it as the “second brain.” Healing, nourishing, and replenishing our gut allows us to support our brains as well as our body.
The following stock is easy to make, mineral-rich, and very supportive to our health. In addition to being the basis of a delicious soup, the liquid can be used in preparing pilafs and grains and used to steam vegetables, or as the base for flavorful sauces. Up to one cup added to mashed potatoes gives them a wonderful flavor. It can also be enjoyed by simply warming up a cup and seasoning it with sea salt and freshly minced spring onions.
Bones from an organic chicken (include the feet, if available)
Gizzards from an organic chicken
4 quarts of water
2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar (unfiltered and unpasteurized – this will help to draw the calcium from the bones)
1 large onion, quartered
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1⁄2 cup dry seaweed—kombu, dulse, or kelp
1 bunch parsley
1 teaspoon turmeric
Place chicken, gizzards, water, and vegetables, except parsley, into a large stockpot. Add vinegar and let the pot sit 30 to 45 minutes. Turn on the heat and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 6 to 8 hours. Remove lid and skim foam from the top of the pot. Add the parsley and the turmeric. Cook another 30 minutes, uncovered.
Strain the stock into glass jars or containers. Refrigerate until stock is firm and fat has congealed. Skim fat from the top of the containers and discard.
Mira Dessy is a Certified Nutrition Educator, Real Food Advocate, and the author of The Pantry Principle. She is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior, and the American Holistic Health Association. She speaks frequently to laypeople and nutrition professionals on how to navigate the grocery store’s mammoth packaged food stock, decipher confusing food labels, and choose healthy foods. Her motto is “Eat well to be well.”