Cooler weather is here and with it comes a change to eating warming fall foods. Not only is soup easy to prepare, but it is also incredibly nourishing and full of health benefits.
Soups, especially those made of bone broths — prepared by boiling the bones of chicken, beef, fish or any other animal — are part of traditional diets in almost every culture. Easy to digest and nutrient-dense, these brothy soups promote healing on many different levels.
One way soup can heal is through the many minerals that are released from the bones as the broth is created: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon and sulfur, to name a few, as well as collagen and glycine. Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are often promoted as supplements to reduce arthritis, inflammation and joint pain.
Another reason to eat soup made from bone broth is that it helps to restore a healthy gut lining for combating food sensitivities, and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, thanks to the gelatin and collagen found in this miracle liquid. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the amino acids made in the preparation of chicken stock improved digestion and reduced inflammation in the respiratory system. Additional health benefits include increased detoxification, stronger immune system function, boosted metabolism and healthy skin. It’s more than just a comfort food — it is medicine.
Though there are trendy bone broth shops popping up in cities around our country, your best bet locally is to make it yourself, ideally from the bones and meat of grass-fed or pastured animals. It is likely that you can find animal bones for broth-making by asking around at the farmers market or anyone you know who raises livestock for meat.
Making bone broth is as simple as placing the bones, meat, animal fat and any vegetables you have on hand, like carrots or onions, in a large stock pot and covering with water. Add a bit of apple cider vinegar and let sit for an hour or so. The vinegar helps to draw out the minerals, making an extra-nutritious soup. Bring to a boil, skim the top, and then simmer for 24-72 hours. You can also use an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker for two hours at high pressure, with a natural steam release.
After you strain out the bones and veggies, you are left with an amazingly rich, nutrient-dense food and medicine. It is the perfect base for any soup you might want to make, or to simply have on its own with a pinch of salt. Most people find it very nourishing, especially when sick, to just drink a cup of plain broth.
For a flavorful soup, a good way to start is by sautéeing plenty of onions. Add garlic a minute or so before you put your broth in. Add veggies to cook until tender, meat, noodles or anything else you might like. Season with plenty of salt, pepper or other spices you like. Then enjoy the nourishment that comes with cooking from scratch and the warmth that comes from a bowl of hot soup.
Lindsay Courcelle, CMT, is a massage therapist specializing in Myofascial Release Therapy at Rutland Integrative Health.