Broth is soul food.
Broth is medicine.
Broth is the cure for what ails you.
Every time. Just like we can count on a tub full of warm water and Epsom Salts to lap away at our tired muscles and soreness, we can always count on a mug of broth to settle a weary mind and bring us back to a more rooted, centered space.
So what's the big damn deal?
Well, I think we're all pretty hungry.
Hungry for truth.
Hungry for compassion.
Hungry for authenticity.
We're all hungry for REAL FOOD.
And also, something magical happens when people eat broth. Cupping a warm, round vessel in your hands. Breathing more deeply, exhaling more fluidly, taking in the nourishment more fully. Often, eyes soften and shoulder blades drop down the back. Not to mention the restorative and deeply nourishing properties of broth:
- Broths are highly digestible, allowing your body to work on healing itself, and not putting additional energy towards digestion
- Broths are rich in trace minerals
- Bone broths (and many iterations of vegetable broths) are rich in collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine - which have restorative properties for your entire system - healing the gut, facilitating digestion, skin and hair benefits, etc.
- Broths are warming to the body (and soul). The warming component of broth is critical as a food staple during any period of recovery.
- Broths in jars are simple to heat up with one hand, easy to consume, and forgiving if you forget about them for a little while. They reheat easily, freeze elegantly, and also sit at room temperature with no issue.
- Broths are easily turned into other meals that are equally as simple: Add cooked rice or quinoa to a bowl of broth. Toss in a handful of fresh spinach and let it wilt when you're hankering for greens. Substitute your broth for water when you're cooking your grains for added flavor, nutritional content, and digestibility. Float an egg on top of hot broth, or whip it in a bowl and drizzle it in for easy egg-drop soup. Easy, forgiving, fast, and seriously nourishing.
- I add healing herbs to many of the broths that I make, based on the specific needs and desires of my client. Especially barks and roots that can be difficult to integrate into your diet through teas (that don't always taste great), can be added to broths and no one will ever know the difference. You're getting the benefit, while enjoying taking the "medicine."
- It's a simple way to remind, remember and provide for your self-care. You have to be well-fed to take care of others. You just do. It's hard enough without being hungry and dehydrated.
- There is an inherent feeling of interconnectedness when you eat food that has been lovingly prepared, made specifically for you. Delivery of warming soul food serves as a potent anchor of connection.
You've heard it called "Broth" and you've heard it called "Stock"?
Purists insist there is a difference between the two, but explanations vary.
Stock - derives from an old Germanic root meaning “tree trunk.” This word has over 60 related meanings, all tied to basic supplies, materials and sources.
According to this definition: Your stock is your root, basically. It is the base, the basic, the bit that happens so that you can magically create something more robust and fun (which, technically, is then called “broth” in this definition). Your stock is the liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients (veggies and bones), after which all of the solids are removed. It is your building block, your blank slate for soups and heartier broths.
In the culinary world, however, a stock has a bit more “substance” in that it begins the same way (water, onions, celery, carrots, black peppercorns and herbs), but instead is made with bones primarily. This high concentration of bone matter often yields a product that is more gelatinous in the end. In this school of thought, stocks aren’t meant to be eaten on their own. Instead, they serve as the basis for soups, sauces, and stews. (I also use a seasoned, gelatinous-rich stock whenever I cook whole grains, for added flavor and because of the richness of the fat that is naturally present).
Broth - derives from another Germanic root meaning “to prepare by boiling,” and is related to the words bouillon and brew.
According to this line of thinking broth is an ancient word for basic soup :) Often a broth has more substance to it in the form of other intentional veggies and starches that are often added.
In the culinary world though, a broth differs from a stock in that the whole chicken (for example), along with its meat, is simmered. So, there are bones in there, but the focus is less on high bone content, and more on the whole creature. Often this yields a lighter, cleaner flavor.
I like the word BROTH, and when I use it, it means a concoction of meats, veggies, flavor enhancing and medicinal herbs and roots are simmered over low heat for at least 48 hours. I strain out all of the "jazz" that was simmering, and the leftover product is what I refer to as "BROTH."
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.
I 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.
- 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.)
Introduction to Food Energetics
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 acup. 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.
Leafy Greens are the respiratory system, the lungs, of the planet. They are taking in Carbon Dioxide and creating Oxygen. They are an powerful representation of our own respiration process. The leafy greens make edible matter from inorganic substances.: they take in light (from SPACE!) and water and create something edible, and full of fiber and chlorophyl too! Eating them is an opportunity to reflectthis transformative energy, and they have also been shown to benefit lung health. (How interesting! :)
The Calcium / Magnesium combo naturally present in leafy greens actually has the ability to dilate the cells in the lungs in a way that no other Calcium does (Calcium from dairy, for example).
Translation: When we eat the thing (insert food), we take on the energy and certain characteristics of that thing.
In the same way, looking at the energy of root veggies: roots absorb and assimilate. And my favorite part is that they do it all in private! Roots are goal oriented plants. They correspond to the small intestine in the human body where absorption and assimilation happen. All things below the naval benefit from root vegetable energy. This wisdom corresponds beautifully to what we know about the second chakra energy, which has to do with money, sex and power. Root veggies can serve us with grounding and centering in this area specifically.