What’s better that hot chicken soup on a cold day? When you make chicken, using your leftover bones and parts for soup is a great way to make use of these extra parts for a nutritious broth which is great for those cold winter days ahead.
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 a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Now I want the whole chicken with bones, skins, tendons, sinew, 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!
Did you know that chicken broth contains more nutrients than many green vegetables? It’s true! Broths are versatile and nutrient-dense foods that are full of vitamins and minerals, and can be used for many things like soup, in rice, in casseroles, sauces, and much more. And, by making broth you are stretching your food dollars out to make your food last longer.
Ingredients and method are important!
The best kind of chicken to use is pasture-raised, organic poultry. The 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 plenty of 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), Vitamins E (important antioxidant and protects against heart disease) and 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 bet 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 about 3 stalks of chopped celery, 2 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. And 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 and turn up the heat until boiling
- Turn heat down and allow to simmer for about two hours
- Somewhere during the cooking process, taste to make sure you have added enough salt and pepper.
- When the broth has simmered for up to 24 hours, remove from heat and take out bones/carcass and bay leaves. If you have limited time, allow your stock to simmer for at least 4-6 hours. The longer you can leave it, the better. I have found that if I leave my stock simmering for longer than 24 hours, however, it can often start to develop an “off taste”. I have still eaten it when it has this taste, so there is nothing wrong with it, the flavor is just not as appealing.
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. 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.
If you are not going to eat your broth right away, store in the refrigerator or freeze for a later time.
This post was originally part of Agriculture Society’s Health Tip of the Day site from 2008.
Variation – beef stock. Follow the same directions except use beef bones or ox tails.
This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday carnival. Please visit this site and read the other great real food posts there.