Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
Broth. Broth is the foundation, the essence, the character and identity of a soup. And so it goes without saying that you cannot find the beginnings of an extraordinary soup within a box or a can.
Modern day food has given us a convenient option for broth found on the shelves of our supermarkets, but homemade broth can make the difference between a good or a great soup.
Homemade broth is essential in making a delicious soup. It serves as the base of flavor; so deep and complex, yet so very, very beautiful in simplicity.
Why a whole chicken? Until recently I only used chicken carcasses for making broth. Thanks to Alice Waters (Chef Owner of Chez Panisse), I will never again make chicken broth without a whole chicken! As Alice Waters explains in her cookbook The Art of Simple Food:
And boy was she ever right! I could not believe the difference in my broth when I began using a whole chicken. I had a deep, rich, flavorful broth ready in 3-4 hours instead of the 7-8 hours it took with only bones. The meat of the chicken produces a wholly different broth, one with much more character.
Once you are done making your broth, pull the cooked chicken from the bones. Store it in the fridge for adding to meals throughout the week, or add some right back into your strained broth with some vegetables and homemade noodles for a delicious soup!
Why vinegar? Vinegar aids in extracting the minerals and nutrients from the bones and making them available to you in the broth. Anytime I make a broth or braise meat on the bone I always add a touch of acid to draw the nutrients out.
Why cold water? The flavor is drawn out from the meat and bones as the water slowly heats up to a boil. How much water you add depends on the type of broth you are aiming for. Just barely submerging the chicken in water will produce a deeper, more flavorful broth. Adding more water will result in a lighter, more delicate broth.
The Desired simmer: It is important that your broth be lowered to a simmer right away. Prolonged boiling will make your broth murky and greasy.
As Alice Waters explains in The Art of Simple Food: “Cook the broth at a simmer, which means at a very gentle boil with bubbles just breaking the surface of the liquid at irregular intervals”
Don’t ditch the fat! The fat adds a whole lot of great flavor to your broth, and if you are using a truly free-range chicken, the fat also packs a whole lot of nutrients!
When we began making our own broth, our soups, and really our cooking as a whole transformed. Making our own broth taught us that as we invest time into our food, there is a phenomenal return in both flavor and nutrition. It strengthened our belief that modern day food has gone awry with its promise of speed and convenience, a promise which robs us of the better things food has to offer. And it has shown us that at its core, food should not be fast. Hmmm, and all this learned from a pot of simmering broth.
Besides the exceptional flavor, homemade broth also provides a whole host of benefits to the health of your joints, ligaments, bones, and skin! Stay tuned on Monday when I’ll discuss how eating bone broth can help protect you from joint pain, bone loss, arthritis, wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks! I will also share a recipe for one of our family’s favorite soups: Roasted pepper, chicken, and bean soup!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
What a fabulous and informational post Eryn!! Mastering a good broth has been a personal endeavor of mine for the past year. I totally agree with this: “Making our own broth taught us that as we invest time into our food, there is a phenomenal return in both flavor and nutrition.” I also prefer to use a whole chicken – what are some of the things you like to do with the cooked chicken meat? I love your suggestion of using freezer bags and ice cube trays to store the broth – I have been using saved plastic yogurt containers but they aren’t so easy to dethaw… One variety that I also really like is sautéing the carrots/celery/onion/garlic in butter or olive oil first – and then adding a cup of white wine and letting it simmer for 5-10 minutes before adding the chicken and the cold water – I also like to add a few bay leaves. A question that I have is regarding saving or skimming the chicken fat – some chefs say to skim it off and some say to use it – is the fat content really high/bad? I definitely appreciate the flavor the fat adds and feel like I can get more use out of it by adding water to dilute the thicker fatty broth in most soups…
Thanks Ruth! Fantastic thoughts and questions 🙂 Your stock sounds delicious! Starting with a mirepoix (saute of carrots, celery, onion and garlic) is a great way to develop flavor from the ground up. I would definitely suggest it also. I actually prefer to do the mirepoix after the broth has been made. I just like keeping the actual making of the broth very simple. When making soup, I make the mirepoix (if I’m using one), then add my already made broth, then start adding any other soup ingredients.
I like to use the cooked chicken in soups, of course, but then also in sautes. Or we make quasadillas a lot for quick snacks or lunch during the week, so it’s nice to have chicken ready to throw in those. We’ve even put the chicken in omelets and that’s tasty!
I think skimming the fat is preference also. Even in the book I referenced, Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food, she recommends skimming off the fat after it has sat in the fridge. Once cooled, the fat solidifies and is easy to scoop off. In reference to the fat content, it depends on what type of chicken you use. If you use a chicken that was raised on pasture, the fat is plenty healthy for you, so I like to leave it. I also enjoy the flavor it adds to the broth.
I have done this a few times after the holidays but would think you could do it with chicken carcase too. By roasting it first it gives it a so rich and yummy flavor.. thought I would share with you
1 large turkey carcass ( with some meat left on if possible)
2 medium onions, quartered
1 large celery rib leaves included, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled
4 quarts cold water ( or use enough water to cover)
1 large bulb of garlic ( separated into whole cloves, can omit if desired)
1 large bay leaf
salt ( optional and to taste)
Set oven to 400 degrees F.
Break up the carcass into smaller pieces then place on a greased baking sheet along with the onions, celery, and carrots,.
Roast for about 40 minutes turning once through cooking time.
Place the bones and vegetables in a large stock pot along with the garlic cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf (you do not have to peel the cloves).
Pour the water over; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to low then cover and simmer for about 3-1/2 hours.
Carefully strain through a sieve over a large bowl and discard the solids.
Love your blog Lori
Thanks Lori! That sounds delicious! Andi always claims the leftover turkey carcass every Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll just have to make a turkey myself soon 😉
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My favorite way to store homemade broth is in lansinoh breastmilk bags. they are the perfect size! and less tedious than ice cubes.
thanks for the “simmer” tip! I totally didn’t know that!
Oh my word! That is a fantastic idea! And a great use of unused breastmilk bags when done nursing 😉
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