One of the best remedies for a cold has long been a good bowl of chicken soup comprised of wholesome home made broth and fresh veggies. It just feels good eating it. You take a spoonful, breathe in the warm steam and slurp up that comforting, nourishing goodness. Books have been written about “Chicken Soup for the Soul” (by Jack Canfield) and how revitalizing it can be. But the process of regeneration does not start at the bowl and spoon stage. It starts long before that when preparing the broth. Home made broth is well established as a healthy, nourishing foundation for many recipes. Broth making goes back generations and many of todays elders have their family recipe deeply ingrained in their memories. When my clients are sick, having a bad day, or just simply bored and unengaged, I often suggest that their caregivers make broth and encourage their elder to participate in the process.
The first point of engagement is conversation about the recipe. This conversation will go in many directions: the ingredients, the process, the times when broth was made and even how it was used in other recipes other than soup. Caregivers can share their recipes and make comparisons.
Next, there may be a need for a shopping trip to get ingredients. Whether or not the older adult is able join you, this in another opportunity for engagement. Picking out the perfect carrots, or celery; deciding between curly parsley or flat. These are all opportunities for the elder to engage their mind and contribute to the final product. Celebrating all the colors and textures of the fresh, raw ingredients is stimulating to the senses and provides a feeling of anticipation of what the broth will taste like.
For an older adult that may be home bound, it is the broth making that greatly enhances their day. A good broth simmers on the stove for several hours. The fragrance drifts into the far corners of the house, carrying with it the familiar comfort of memories long ago. The smell of broth cooking on the stove is inviting, warm and stimulates the appetite. The elder should be encouraged to check on the broth throughout the day. Stirring a pot of simmering broth releases all the goodness of the fresh ingredients into the broth and engages the body and senses. As the color and fragrance of the broth enriches, so too will the conversations about home cooking, family recipes and kitchen tips.
When the broth is done and strained, the fresh ingredients can be added to make your favorite soup recipe. This is another opportunity to engage the elder in food preparations such as chopping and measuring. While the soup is being prepared, they can taste test to engage their opinion on flavor and spicing. I often suggest that left over broth be frozen in 2 cup freezer bags or mason jars for use in recipes or just to sip like tea. Sipping plain broth just feels good!
When the final product is done, you can finally sit down and enjoy the fruits of the day’s labor with a big bowl of warm goodness. Enjoy the following recipes for broth and soup. Bon Appetite!
Taken from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, 1999
- 1 whole pastured chicken or 2-3 pounds chicken bones with or without bits of meat, including feet if you have them
- variation: turkey or duck
- 4 quarts cold water
- 2 T vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (or your bag of collected frozen onion parts)
- 2 carrots coarsely chopped (I omit this sometimes)
- 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped (I omit this if I don’t have celery)
- Throw all of your chicken parts (chopped up if possible) in a pot, add the water, vinegar and vegetables. Let sit for a half hour, then bring to a boil and remove the scum/foam that rises to the top with a spoon. No need to remove the floating fat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the more rich and flavorful it will be. You could also do this in a large crock pot / slow cooker.
- If you used a whole chicken, don’t leave the meat in there for more than about 2 hours. Remove the chicken, remove the meat and reserve, and put the bones back in the broth to cook.
- Remove the whole chicken pieces with a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl, then ladle into mason jars. Let the jars sit until they are pretty cool, then freeze or refrigerate.
- If you want to defat: put the mason jars (or the large bowl) into the fridge until they’re completely cool then break off the fat. Freeze the fat for use in gravies.