You may have heard this story, but I am going to tell it again anyway…
When Mahatma Ghandi’s son contracted typhoid and pneumonia and was deathly ill, the village doctor prescribed homemade chicken soup. That was it. Homemade chicken soup.
Now, being the Ghandi’s were strict vegetarians, this was a trying request. However, they followed the doctors’ orders and their son healed.
For centuries homemade chicken soup, also known as bone broth, has been a touted healer of all things—and now western medical research supports these claims. In addition to the immune boosting benefits of having chicken soup when you have a cold or the flu, western research has also shown that homemade bone broths are helpful for the following conditions: food allergies, dairy intolerances, colic, bean intolerances, meat intolerances, grain intolerances, hypochlorhydria, hyperacidity, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), gastritis, ulcer, hiatal hernia, inflammatory bowel disease (both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia (source).
So, why is bone broth so healing?
It’s all about collagen. Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins that is found in animals, especially in the connective tissues of mammals. It is a gel-like substance that literally holds body’s in tact—it is the framework of bone, cartilage and skin.
When one makes homemade chicken soup using the whole chicken—bones and all— you can see actually the soup thickening as the collagen seeps out into the broth.(Note: once collagen is extracted from the bones and cooked down it is called gelatin.) And, it is this substance that is the reason homemade chicken soup has been used as a traditional “medicine” for centuries. The gelatin derived from the cooked down collagen can benefit teeth, bones, joints, nails and hair (it can even help with cellulite!). As well, bone broth is great for the digestive system as it helps heal the intestinal lining for those who suffer with food allergies and gastro-intestinal disorders.
Collagen’s nutritional panel is extensive: it contains a wide range of amino acids, minerals and protein. It’s hands down one of the best nutritional powerhouses that exist. Hence, its healing properties.
Interesting fact: scientists found that the ingestion of gelatin was so helpful in the digestion of milk that in the early to mid 1900’s it was added to baby formula.
Sadly, that tradition has been lost and we are left with more food intolerances that we know what to do with. But, now I am going to arm with a fantastic bone broth recipe so you can bring back tradition to your home.
I can hear you asking: Why can’t I just buy storebought broth? Isn’t that the same?
No, I’m sorry you must make your own (or have someone else make it for you). Store-bought broths just will not do. Being there are no standards for preparation of commercially sold broths, most manufacturers don’t make stock properly—some don’t even use bones! Hence, why they add MSG and sodium to their concoctions—they have to do something to make it taste better!
Here’s my favorite recipe (adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon). Personally, after I finish cooking the below recipe, I just remove the bones, add some more veggies (celery, carrot, onion, garlic and parsnips) and cook again for about an hour. Rather than following the recipe where it calls for removing the chicken meat, I keep the meat in and have a delicious homemade bone broth chicken soup! Yum!
1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and book author Aimee E. Raupp is a women’s health and fertility expert. Her growing practice focuses on improving health and beauty, preventing disease and increasing fertility among women whose health and wellness are challenged by the demands, stressors and imbalances of Western culture. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @aimeeraupp.