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Badass Broths for Increased Immunity
What Makes a Good Pot of Broth?
How to compose a nutritive, flavorful pot
History of the Soup Pot according to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, and also Nourishing Broths:
- The first soups were “stone soups” - no joke! Hot stones from nearby fires were added to the abdominal pouches of butchered animals in order to simmer up mixtures of meat, fat, bones, herbs, wild grains and water.
- The first earthenware pots were fired at low temperatures in pit fires or open bonfires. Crude, hand-formed, and undecorated, they date back to 22,000 years ago in China and about 12,000 years ago elsewhere.
- Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took portable soup on the Corps of Discovery Expedition of 1804-1806, and considered it so essential that they went over budget to pay $189.50 for 193 pounds of dried soup packed in thirty-two tin canisters. Lewis and Clark spent more on soup than on instruments, arms, or ammunition.
- In her 1859 book, Notes on Nursing, Florence Nightingale emphasized the importance of “easy digestibility” and said, “Remember that sick cookery should do half the work of your poor patient’s weak digestion.” No food improves digestion better than broth.
We always begin with the same basic ingredients:
Water ~ onions ~ celery ~ carrots ~ black peppercorns
Variations / Additions:
- Fresh Garlic and / or Shallots
- Chili peppers (I like dried whole cayenne peppers, but also enjoy adding jalepeno, poblano, serrano and anaheim chilis
- A single bay leaf (go easy with bay leaves and whenever you use them, they go in last, right on top, right in the middle and then integrate themselves into the mixture.
- Celery Root (about 1/3 of a cup, coarsely chopped)
- Fresh or dried mushrooms: cremini, white button, shiitake (save fancy mushrooms like morels and chanterelles for eating - not in the context of the soup pot).
- Various fresh and dried herbs - according to seasons.
- Fresh Ginger
- High quality salt: Celtic Sea Salt is my favorite. (With Salts, best to choose Sea salts over Land Salts.)
- If you desire a more gelatinous broth, experiment with adding chicken feet, chicken "frames" (essentially, the backbone of the chicken, leftover from cutting it into parts - i.e. breasts, thighs, drumsticks, etc.), split pig's feet, and other knobby, tissue rich, connective joints and bones.
My Chicken Broth Go-to RECIPE:
- 1 whole pastured chicken (with all the bits and pieces if you can get them)
- optional: 3 pairs of chicken feet, 6 total feet (if you're wanting them)
- optional: 2 chicken backs (again, if you're wanting them)
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 heads of garlic
- several "knobs" of fresh ginger (to taste), coarsely chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped lengthwise (more surface area)
- 3 pieces of celery
- an entire bunch of parsley
- 3 Tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt
- 3 Teaspoons Whole Black Peppercorns
Combine everything in a pot, I usually begin with the first item on this list and then work my way up, putting in the peppercorns last.
Cover with excellent water. Cover with a lid.
Chant your blessings, wishes or a particular magical spell over the pot, while placing your hands in contact with it. Close your eyes and really imagine what you're saying. Make pictures of it in your head. With blessings and incantations, I find repeating in threes to be especially effective.
Bring to an easy, low simmer on your stove (or inside of your crock pot), and cook at least overnight. Taste.
Cook longer if you like. (Reminder to remove veggies like celery and mushrooms if you've used them after about 15 hours of cooking. They get bitter and tend to bring your broth down in flavor. :)
Every Food Has a Temperament
Yup, I said that. Read it again, ‘cause it’s true.
You are what you eat.
All food has a function or a role in nature. Food energetics is information that you already know, it just needs to be observed. The food wisdom present in all traditional cultures’ instinctive actions is beginning to be confirmed by modern medicine and the scientific community.
Many ancient cultures have a tradition of administering chicken soup when people are seriously ill. The chicken soup had a specific purpose: seriously invalid, lifeless, immobile people were given it as a remedy. Why chicken? Why not beef or lamb? Let’s look at the character of the animal:
Chickens are full of vitality, they are extremely animated creatures and have an eager kind of energy. Their daily lives are active, running, outside, moving, working, clucking and being generally very spirited. That's their life-force: exuberant, vigorous, perky. It stands to reason, then, that when you consume that animal’s energy in the form of food, you take into your body that energy resonance along with the physical food substance.
My Chicken [Noodle] Soup Method:
- Copious Tablespoons of high-quality extra virgin Olive Oil
- (1) large yellow onion
- (8-10) cloves of garlic
- (5-6) celery stalks
- (5-6) whole carrots
- (2-3) cups of chicken **
- (8-15 cups) of your homemade broth or stock (this depends on the consistency of soup YOU enjoy, use more or less as it feels good to you)
- (1) package high quality egg noodles (always use egg noodles, I’ll talk about what to do if you only have regular noodles)
- A handful of your favorite fresh herbs, OR
- (1) Tablespoon of dried Parsley
- (1/2) Teaspoon of dried Marjoram
- (1/2) Teaspoon of dried Thyme
Find your largest stock pot.
Bless it: I like to take the clean, dried pot, and place my hand on the inside, at the bottom (like I’m making a hand-print on the inside of the pot), and take a moment of intention. I close my eyes and say something like:
“Let this soup be magically healing for me and my family”
“Thank you fire, water, air, earth and metal that makes this moment possible.”
“Hot damn. I’m making yummy soup. Thank you for the opportunity to heal myself and my loved ones.”
“Homemade is sexy. I am so beautiful and powerful when I nourish myself and others.”
Whatever you want works :)
Chop your onions and garlic cloves as you like them.
Turn the heat on and place your Magical stock-pot on the heat. Add several Tablespoons of your sexy-time Olive Oil. Let it warm a little, then crank up the heat to simmer-isn and add in your onions first. Let them sauté until they are clear-isn, or a little caramel-ish (whatever floats your boat, you know how you like your onions). Toss in your garlic when you think your onions have about three more minutes of cooking time. Sauté. Enjoy how this smells.
Sprinkle some good Sea Salt and fresh Black Pepper as you stir and enjoy. Also, I like to add some of the herbs at this point as well.
Toss in your chicken and stir to combine. If your chicken is already cooked, this step takes maybe 2 minutes. If you’re working with some raw chicken, you might need to add more sexy-time Olive Oil and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Remember, you’re going to heat your soup to a boil, so there’s no need to worry about having your chicken bits be under-done.
Add in your chopped up carrots and celery and stir to combine. The fragrance of all of this should be turning you on, big time, by the way. If it’s not, play some music or light some incense or a candle, or have a cocktail or something - what you’re doing is essentially ancient magic and you want to feel that.
When every ingredient looks a little warmer and more a part of this new team that you’ve assembled, then take your broth, and pour it over the top. Use as much or as little broth as you like. Use your guts and your inner wisdom. Resist the urge to measure with a cup. Pour. Let it splash a little. It’s okay.
Cover the whole thing and bring it to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let that jazz work for about 30-45 minutes. Keep tasting for seasoning throughout. Add extra spices, salt and pepper as you like it.
If you’re adding noodles, wait until about 15 minutes prior to serving to add them to the pot. Stir gently to combine as they cook. I often remove the pot from heat when I’m adding the noodles. I don’t know why I do this, but I do. Seems more gentle, I think.
Serve with garnishes of fresh chopped ginger, green onions, or anything else that you particularly enjoy. In Arizona, where I’m from, there are many restaurants that take half of an avocado and lay that on top of a bowl of chicken noodle soup, along with some fresh pico de gallo. Mix it up, have fun. Do what feels good. Explore. Make it your own.
** this can be shredded from the carcass, leftover breast meat that you cooked for dinner last night and then chopped up, or if your carcass was mostly picked clean of meat, just buy a couple of thighs or breasts, chop up and reserve them.
Cows are full of power. They are also slow, lumbering animals resonant with strength, full of muscle, and have incredible endurance. They have amazing stamina and are very solid physically and energetically. They are a high-protein animal. Beef is a food high in hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body), increases metabolism and has a thermogenic (warming to the body) quality.
From this character assessment, we can gather that beef broths would be beneficial in instances where we are feeling especially vulnerable, weak, cold and frail. Any time when we are wanting the energy of building, of framework, of slow steadiness and mass, beef is the go-to food (or in this instance, source for broth).
My Beef Broth Method
- (2) large yellow or white onions
- (3-4) bulbs of garlic
- (6-10) celery stalks
- (6-10) whole carrots
- (2-3) lbs of high-quality beef bones
- (10-20) cups of water
- Several handfuls of your favorite fresh herbs, OR
- (2) Tablespoons of dried Parsley
- (2) Tablespoons of dried Thyme
- (2) Teaspoon of dried Rosemary
- (1) Tablespoon of Black Peppercorns (to taste)
- (1-2) Tablespoons of Sea Salt (to taste)
Bless your pot. Bless your own divine wisdom for making broth.
Place all ingredients in your largest stock pot. Fill pot with water, fill to the top and place your Bay leaf on the very top of everything.
Cover and bring to a boil. (Watch it because you don’t want it to boil over).
Reduce heat, keep covered, and simmer on low (just barely bubbling) for at least 2 hours. You can simmer for up to 48 hours as well. I normally try to simmer for at least one whole day.
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Garlic is a magical, wonderful superfood.
It is rich in antioxidants, is a potent anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory both topically and internally. Garlic contains high levels of manganese, calcium, vitamin B1, B6 and C, phosphorous, copper, potassium, selenium and tryptophan. With all this going for it, garlic boosts the immune system. Garlic triggers the liver to release toxins from the body, while at the same time protecting the liver from harm.
Eat more garlic. Do it often. It’s SO good for you.
Roasted Garlic Bulbs
Why? ‘Cause they’re warm and delicious. Also, helps make garlic easier to digest. for people who have a hard time eating it raw. Plus, it keeps all of the non-garlic lovers (and the mosquitos) far away from you :)
- Several heads / bulbs of organic garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Peel and discard the papery outer layers of the whole garlic bulb, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact.
Using a good, sharp knife, cut 1/4 to a 1/2 inch from the top of the cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
Place the cloves in a baking pan, a muffin pan works great - keeps them from moving around.
Drizzle with olive oil and using your fingers rub the oil all over the cut, exposed cloves.
Cover the bulb with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow to cool enough so that you can touch it with your hands and pull or squeeze the roasted cloves out of their skins. (can also use a small cocktail fork to help with the extraction).
Spread over crostini or eat as it is. Or bathe with it. Or rub it all over your body. Whatever :)
Some Common (and not so common) Helpers for Winter
Makes about 2 1/2 cups. Recipe adapted from mommypotoamus.com
- 1/2 cup dried or 1 cup fresh Elderberries
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup of honey
- 1-2 Tablespoons of freshly grated ginger (optional)
- 1 Cinnamon stick (optional)
Add water, elderberries and ginger / cinnamon (if you’re using them) to a pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. This should take around 45 minutes.
Strain to remove berries. Allow liquid to cool to room temperature, then stir in honey.
Transfer elderberry syrup to a jar and store in the fridge.
Shelf life: Keep in the fridge and will last several months.
They support immune system function by providing Vitamin C, betacarotene, Vitamin B6 and iron. Also, they contain aspecial flavanoid called anthocyanin. Demonstrable benefits of anthocyanin consumption include; protection against liver injuries; significant reduction of blood pressure; improvement of eyesight; strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities; inhibition of mutations caused by mutagens from cooked food; and suppression of proliferation of human cancer cells. Along with other phenolic compounds, they are potent scavengers of free radicals, although they can also behave as pro-oxidants. Because of their diverse physiological activities, the consumption of anthocyanins may play a significant role in preventing lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular and neurological diseases.*
I like to make miso bowl, by bowl. I feel like this allows for customization and keeps you from unnecessarily over-cooking your miso. If you make it individually, then the miso is only heated the one time, which helps to preserve its potent probiotic tendency.
- (1 -2) Teaspoons of Mellow, White Miso (that’s my favorite, but explore the flavors of different misos as well).
- Fresh green onions
- Fresh chopped garlic
- Sea vegetables (I like to add Nori Seaweed to each bowl)
- Tamare or Soy Sauce to taste
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Your good homemade broth
Take your scoop of miso and set the spoon in the bottom of a bowl you like. Ladle the warm broth over the miso, and stir until miso is well integrated. Sprinkle with other herbs, add seaweed, etc. and enjoy!
Essential Oils to Consider:
Thieves Oil blend, also called Medieval Blend, 4 Robbers, etc.
Thieves is a combination of clove oil, rosemary and cinnamon bark primarily. Some blends also integrate orange and lemon
The story goes that the humans who robbed dead people of their personal belongings during the plague in Europe would use this oil blend to avoid becoming ill themselves. Clove is an incredibly potent anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti- inflammatory substance.
This blend can be taken orally - add two drops to your hot tea (if your essential oils are made for human consumption and not just topical use), or can be diffused into the air. Many products exist from toothpastes to mouthwashes to oral lozenges that now have this blend in them.
Equal parts Peppermint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus
My favorite respiratory support combo.
I find this especially helpful when I’m having a hard time breathing because of nasal congestion.
Great remedy to try when anti-bacterial qualities are required by the body.
Garlic is assimilated through the soles of the feet and up into the lungs and chest. I’ve used this as a remedy for walking pneumonia in conjunction with other potent herbs and the care of a physician.
You can do this before you become overly symptomatic (you just begin to notice something), or when you’re in the acute phase of something (especially effective for infections you think might be bacterial in nature).
- Chop up 4-5 cloves of garlic
- Mix in with enough olive oil to act as a medium, you’re going for a paste-like quality
- Just before going to bed, take paste, and a pair of wool socks if you have them, and sit on the edge of your bathtub
- smear paste on the bottoms of your feet. Be liberal and use it all. Pull socks over the garlic-y feet, taking care to try to keep the garlic in touch with the skin on the bottom of your feet.
Repeat as needed. I usually do this for 2-3 nights and notice a huge difference. It’s also a method I can use to get the positive qualities of garlic into my child without him having to EAT all that garlic.
Carrot poultices can be used to treat sore throats, colds, the flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, swollen glands, or any time cleansing of the lymph is needed. You can use them as often as necessary.
A carrot poultice is a compress made from carrots. It is used to draw toxins from the body, usually the neck area. Carrots have a cleaning action on the lymph glands and a poultice is an easy way to focus that healing energy to the glands in the neck. A carrot poultice can speed recovery from a sore throat or swollen glands. Children love carrot poultices, as they are non-invasive and they are very soothing.
Gather two large fresh carrots, one sheet of cheesecloth or paper towel or muslin and a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger (optional). You will need a grater, blender of food processor.
Grate carrots finely. Collect the grated carrots, juice and all, and place them in the center of the cloth or paper towel. Wrap the paper in thirds, and then fold in the edges to seal and secure the bundle. This can be a little messy but you will get better with practice. The finished size is four inches wide by eight inches long.
Wrap cloth around your neck and lie down. Place an old towel or cloth around it to prevent staining bed sheets. The cloth will become hot, drawing heat from your neck. Rest for at least a half an hour or longer, as you wish. Discard the carrots when done. This can be repeated as often as necessary. You can reuse the poultice for 12-24 hours if you refrigerate between uses.
Option: Ginger/Carrot Poultice
Add a few slices of grated fresh ginger to the grated carrot. This increases the heat and stimulates the lymph. This poultice is stronger and has more "bite".