Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert
Many people find themselves gravitating towards soups, broths & stews as winter descends; a form of nutritional intuition that serves us in more ways than just taste & pleasure. The body craves warmth as the ambient temperature drops – grounding, nourishing foods that provide mineral-rich support in a time of decreased energy & immunity.
By Anthia Koullouros.
‘Soup season’ always brings a smile to my face – there is something about a bowl of homemade broth, complete with a medley of vegetables and tender meats, that is equivalent to a culinary embrace. With the best ingredients, preparation and care, broths and soups will provide an incredible foundation for healthy winter meals. Read about my favourites, plus recipes, below.
Homemade bone stock is the healthy alternative to processed, tetra-packed or canned stock, stock cubes, pastes, liquids or powder. They provide stellar nutrition as well as an essential cooking ingredient, forming a base for many other dishes.
There are many types of bone stocks: lamb, ham hock, seafood, poultry carcass or whole chicken, beef or marrow. They are all wonderful! You should allow at least 4–6 hours to do the job properly or 12 hours in a slow cooker.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
Your choice of raw bones or seafood
Water - 4 litres for every 1 kg of bones;
3.5 litres for every 1.5 kg of whole chicken;
3 litres for every 500gm of prawn shells, fish heads and tails
Natural salt - 1/4 teaspoon for every 1 litre of water
Vegetables – For every 1 kg of bones, add 100gm each of sliced carrots, onion and leek, 1 celery stick and 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley stalks
Apple cider vinegar - 3 tablespoons for every 1 litre (this will help extract minerals)
Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot and simmer, covered, for 4–6 hours (hard or large bones, such as beef bones, may simmer for up to 10 hours). Skim the froth off the surface every now and then. When the stock is ready, any meat and cartilage will fall off the bone. Strain and serve as a clear broth or freeze in 2-cup (500 ml) containers and use as needed.
Tip: Bone stocks can also be made from leftover cooked bones. Add all gravies, juices, leftover vegetables or meat to the pan as well, topping up with extra salt and plenty of water.
Place the congealed fat, gelatin, bones and skin, gravy juices, leftover vegetables and meat in a saucepan. Add extra salt if needed and enough water to cover and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface. Drain, discarding the solids. This flavoursome stock can be served as a clear broth or used as base for stews, casseroles or pilafs.
A good-quality bone broth will have plenty of gelatin, which sets like jelly when the bone stock is cold (beef and marrow bones impart the best gelatin).
Gelatin strengthens nails, bones and hair and is excellent for arthritic inflammation. It offers some, but not all, amino acids.
A cup of broth as an appetiser before meals warms the digestive system. A clear broth is an excellent remedy for colds and flu, especially with the addition of lemon, garlic and some freshly grated ginger root.
Medicinal herbs and Spices to add to a broth or soup:
Bay leaves have a sweet, balsamic and spicy scent and flavour for roasts, curries and soups. One or two leaves is all you need in a dish. Therapeutically, bay leaves soothe the tummy.
Chilli flakes add a bite of heat to dishes – sprinkle with salt flakes and cracked pepper just before serving a meal. Therapeutically acts as an appetite suppressant and metabolism booster.
Garlic granules offer the pungency and potency of garlic in its dry form. Very convenient when fresh is not available. Therapeutically indicated for infection, colds and flu due to its antimicrobial properties.
Ginger root adds warmth, spice and sweetness. It is often used in Oriental and Indian-style cooking, and is delicious with pork or duck. Therapeutically indicated for nausea and digestive upsets and to warm a cold constitution. Like chilli, it stimulates the metabolism.
Thyme has a leafy lemony flavour. Use it with sage for Mediterranean recipes. Therapeutically significant as an antiseptic, antimicrobial and antispasmodic indicated for ailments of the digestive and respiratory system.
Turmeric powder gives curry powder its distinctive flavour. It is so medicinal that it is used to prevent and treat many inflammatory conditions. Therapeutically it is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and liver protective. It is indicated for many chronic illnesses.
How to make a Clear broth:
2 cups (500 ml) fresh or thawed frozen bone stock
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 spring onions or 1 small bunch chives, thinly sliced
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley or coriander leaves, finely chopped
Fennel leaf tops from 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Natural salt and freshly cracked pepper
Heat up the stock and garlic in a saucepan, pouring into a bowl and serving with spring onion or chives, chopped herbs and fennel leaf. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon juice for sharpness and freshness and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To turn a clear broth into a main meal, add your choice of chopped meat and vegetables. If you are not adding any meat, drop whole eggs into the broth – they will poach beautifully in the hot soup. Serve while the egg yolks are still soft.
Tip: The addition of dried seaweed to a clear broth adds more nutrition, such as iodine, and intensifies the flavours. Simply cut kombu, kelp, dulse, wakame or nori into pieces with kitchen scissors and stir into the broth until softened.
How to make a Vegetable soup:
The base for any vegetable soup is a mirepoix (diced carrot, celery and onion) and a bone stock. A bone stock adds flavour, nutrition and stimulates digestion and assimilation of the nutrients present in the vegetables.
2 tablespoons olive oil
40 g butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
Any additional vegetables you want to add
1.5–2 litres bone stock natural salt and freshly cracked pepper
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When melted and sizzling, add the onion and garlic and cook, covered, for 5 minutes or until transparent. Add the carrot and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Saute any extra vegetables you want to add, then add the stock and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all the vegetables are cooked. Ladle into bowls and serve.
For something so easy, soups, broths & stocks are incredibly nutrient-rich, warming and delicious. A wonderful way to utilize the whole animal – with leftover bits & bones – honouring your winter cravings has never been so therapeutic!
By Anthia Koullouros
You might also like:
- Strengthen Your Immune System for Winter
- Kitchen Medicine Cabinet: Natural Health Remedies
- How to Slow the Ageing Process with Antioxidant Teas
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