Homemade Chicken Broth

 

I remember reading my mom’s recipes when I was a little girl. There was a recipe from my Great Grandma Ruth entitled “Bone Soup” and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Why would ANYONE want to make soup out of bones? There’s no meat on them?! I used to think that my great grandma, who raised 7 children in the hills of southern Oregon was crazy. I mean… who makes soup out of bones? Well, growing up has a way of saying “I told you so” and the simple answer is: Me. I drink a quart or two a day, it is the stuff that gives me energy and has been so instrumental in my healing journey. I use it for all of my soup bases and will add it to casseroles, roasted veggies, mashed veggies. You name it and it’s probably being added to a meal. Incognito style.

Broth is ancient – think Stone Age ancient and go back to the time where organ meats were king. The first soups were made by placing hot rocks in the abdominal pouches of butchered animals in order to slowly cook up mixtures of meat, bone, fat, herbs, wild grains and vegetables. To this day, there is some record of nourishing broth, either oral or written, in almost every culture.

Until the modern invention of mass canning (think Campbell’s and Progresso), many homes had a cauldron or large pot in which they kept broth simmering on the back burner. Even Downton Abbey gave a nod in Season 5 to the importance broth had in by-gone eras with The Dowager Countess (I just love her character) quipping, “every good lady’s maid should know how to make a restorative broth.” While I have no dreams or aspirations of becoming a lady’s maid, I do think that every single person should know how to make a restorative broth. 

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Savoy Cabbage Soup

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a recipe. I sprained my ankle right before Christmas and was down for the count. I’m finally getting around enough that cooking, carrying plated food over to the window where I take my photos and balancing a camera… and maintaining balance myself, aren’t daunting tasks. Not to mention that the natural lighting has been working against me. It’s been exceptionally dark and dreary these past few weeks – even for Oregon. We’ve been socked in fog “‘thicker than frozen snot on a door knob,” according to Portland’s National Weather Service Office. So much so that my dad, who’s an umpteenth generation Oregonian, commented. I tried to take photos a week or two ago and they were so embarrassing that I had to quickly delete them. So here we are.

Today’s soup is perfect for the dead of winter. I have fond memories of playing at a friend of our family’s farm out of Troutdale, OR. They lived in a house up on a bluff above the Sandy River and running around exploring and tormenting the older brother was heaven (it was two girls against one boy – poor kid!). My family was so taken with this simple soup that my mother had to ask for the recipe and it’s been a staple ever since. I’ve made a few modifications to it over the years but for the most part, it remains the same.

It’s the kind of soup that will pump the lifeblood back into your bones on a cold winter’s day (or a day with dense fog) and won’t leave you overly full…. and only takes 30 minutes to cook! (Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray!) When I’m not eating paleo, I like to sprinkle a bit of aged raw Parmesan on top with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt. Whatever you choose to top it with, chances are it’ll be a hit!

But before the recipe, a few notes: You really want to use savoy cabbage with this soup. It’s far more delicate than your typical “green cabbage” and cooks down nicely. You retain much of the crunch and texture of the cabbage but it’s not your “normal” thick pieces. Savoy cabbage can easily be found at a farmer’s market or a natural foods store – if you aren’t sure which is savoy, just ask!

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Savoy Cabbage Soup

  • 1 head organic savoy, shredded
  • 5 pieces organic, grass-fed bacon, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can organic diced tomatoes, BPA-free lining
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 4 cups bone broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Aged, raw Parmesan for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium-large stock pot, over medium heat, cook bacon until done. Remove bacon from pan, leaving fat at the bottom. Cut up cabbage while bacon is cooking.
  2. Add garlic and saute until golden, stirring often.
  3. Add tomatoes and juice from can and shredded cabbage. Stir.
  4. Add filtered water and bone broth and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until cabbage is cooked.
  5. Add bacon back to soup and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with shredded Parmesan (optional).

Red Cabbage Braised with Broth and Mead

There’s a theme to my posts recently – braising. It’s not purposeful, it’s just late autumn and nomming on braised veggies sounds divine. Mention fresh veggies to me and my stomach acts like it’s on a Six Flags roller coaster. No thank you. I’ll stick with my slow-cooked veggies. In this case, slow-cooked cabbage. I think I’ve mentioned that I’m Irish/German American. Cabbage and all derivatives thereof were a staple in my family when growing up. This recipe was our favorite when my mother decided we were going to have “German Pub Night,” as she so aptly put it. We knew when we saw that on the menu planner on the fridge, it was going to be this cabbage, a whole lot of Eastern European sausages from the local Polish sausage maker (he had dead carcasses hanging in his shop, totally cool to a family full of kids), and some kind of potato dish. 

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Like all family favorites, I had to hack this one apart and reassemble with tender loving care. It’s one of those foods that we would eat for an after-school snack… which usually meant my mom was frustrated with her because there went any hopes of having leftovers for dinner. But, seriously. If you can get kids to want to eat this rather than fruit roll-ups (we never were allowed those, anyway), I’m sure you’re more than winning as a parent.

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A few notes and substitutions: If your body stand the mead, add more chicken broth. I usually use whatever I have made in my freezer – whether it be chicken or beef. Omitting will turn it Whole30, Anti-Inflammation Diet, 21 Day Sugar Detox, specific carb diet, and paleo-friendly. (Also omit the maple syrup for Sugar Detox and Whole30.) Stay away from fish stock. Look. I might be Irish, but I draw the line somewhere. No fish stock in the cabbage. Your kids won’t be sneaking that for an after-school snack. Guaranteed. 

Finally, this is one of my favorite recipes because I can put it on to cook and walk away for a while. As in go for a jog, take a long, hot bath and read a good book. Today it was just the jog – I had this post to edit. But it’s a good recipe if you’re a busy family and it can be cooked on high in a crock pot for about an hour and a half if you’re going to be gone for a while and are uncomfortable with leaving the stove on. It’s also fabulous when made ahead of time, the juices continue to marinate the cabbage into a flavor that’ll make your Irish ancestors jealous. 

Red Cabbage Braised in Chicken Broth and Mead 

  • 1 head organic red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 organic onions, chopped
  • 3 cups organic cranberries, rinsed and check for bad ones!
  • 1 organic Granny Smith apple (or some other tart, hard apple) peeled, cored,and sliced
  • 1 ¼ cup organic chicken stock 
  • ½ cup mead
  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup organic grade B maple syrup
  1. In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is tender, about 45-60 minutes. Or see crock pot directions above. 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

If you want to talk about a food that gets a bad name, these might be it. No one likes them, everybody hates them, guess I’ll go eat worms. Ummm… or not. Brussels sprouts are one of my most favorite foods. Why? They’re just so much fun to eat! Each one is a mini cabbage that I get to play with and peel. Because I’m 30 going on 5. And sometimes I play with my food. Sometimes I also understand the necessity to get other people to eat their greens. This recipe was born out of that need. According to my brother, who loathes, despises, abhors and detests Brussels sprouts, they did not taste like the delightfully adorable mini-cabbages and were actually quite good. (A huge compliment from a sarcastic 21 year-old!)

They have a touch of ground mustard to give them some subtle heat and a bit of a kick. Not to fear, it’s very subtle and enhances the flavors in the dish. The lemon juice provides a distinctive acidity that is delightfully mellow. I hope you enjoy them! I’ve been eating them alone, with other foods and as a noodle replacement for my marinara all week. So fantastic! 

Brussels Sprouts Braised with Lemon

  • 2 tbsp organic ghee 
  • 1 ½ lbs organic Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed, julienne-cut
  • 1 small organic onion, diced
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • ½+ tsp ground mustard (the spice, not the condiment and heap that measuring spoon)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp organic lemon juice

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium heat, melt the ghee and add the onions. Saute until translucent, add the garlic and saute a few minutes more.  
  2. Add Brussels sprouts and stir to mix. Add spices. Cook until sprouts are a bright green (not the gross dark green overcooked crud).
  3. Add lemon juice and stir. Turn off heat and serve warm.