Why Bone Broth?The healing powers of Chicken Soup have long been extolled by every grandmother on earth. The soothing broth and aromatic steam always seems to loosen my congestion and soothe a sore throat. Studies done over the past 20 years have actually shown that chicken and vegetable soup can reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms, and boost the immune system! Bone broth is a super charged version of traditional soup (though research is limited). The goal is to extract not just the flavor from bones and ligaments, but also the incredibly dense nutrients found in those ingredients. Bones are packed with nutrients like collagen, magnesium, calcium, and a host of other minerals. Getting those nutrients isn’t always easy though, as most of us won’t be gnawing on marrow bones regularly. The theory behind bone broth, is that you extract the spectrum of nutrients from the bones into a more easily digestible medium, broth. A cup a day of bone broth is supposed to:
- Boost your immune system;
- Protect joints;
- Strengthen hair and nails;
- Promote youthful and more radiant skin;
- Promote gut health;
- Improve metabolism; and
- Assist in detox.
The BonesWhen I first started making bone broth, I could only find recipes that called for grass fed marrow or soup bones. While I’m sure that these bones will produce a Michelin star worthy broth, they are a bit too pricey for me to use regularly. I also have a serious aversion to the flavor of beef broth (it just tastes like greasy water to me). For my broth, I wanted to build off of one of my favorite comfort foods – chicken soup. We roast a bird (chicken or duck typically) for dinner at least once a week. I simply freeze the carcass once I’ve removed most of the meat (leave some scraps on the bones), along with the neck and any giblets that may have come with the bird. This way I have an endless supply of bones ready for broth at a moment’s notice. Once you have a good supply of bones, you need to roast them. Some recipes say you can skip this step, but you would be doing yourself a major disservice if you did. The flavor from the roasted bones is much richer, and the broth will take on a beautiful deep color. I will typically take the bones and lay them flat in a roasting pan for about 45 minutes at 450 degrees. You want the bones browned, but not burned, so just check on them about every 15 minutes until they get to the perfect point.
The GreensAll of the research done on the healing properties of soup highlighted that the effects of chicken soup were most pronounced when it included a variety of vegetables. Parsnips, carrots, onions, pepper and celery are all key to the success of your broth. Since I really want my broth to not only be flavorful, but healing, I also added in turmeric, ginger, garlic, and some aromatic herbs. I chose herbs that are known for flavor and health benefits. Parsley is not just an annoying garnish, but also packs a punch of B & C vitamins, folic acid, and various other nutrients. It is often used as a diuretic, and has been shown helpful in increasing heart, joint, bone and gut health. There is even some evidence that parsley can help in the treatment of diabetes, and is a natural cancer preventative. The next herb I used was dill. Chicken and dill is a classic combination. However, the dill isn’t just there for flavor – it has a job to do as well! Dill has antimicrobial properties, and is also useful for digestive health and lowering cholesterol. The final herb in my “witches brew” is thyme. Thyme is highly underrated as a natural healer, and has been shown to prevent food poisoning. It will not only prevent contamination in food, but decontaminate already tainted produce. A bit of thyme essential oil and water is a great natural way of cleaning your produce, but it has a lot of other great benefits as well. Thyme is fantastic if you are susceptible to respiratory infections. It is used as a natural cure for bronchitis, and can help ease the pains from a sore throat. Finally, it is also used as a natural remedy for high blood pressure and to reduce cholesterol.
The ProcessA traditional bone broth will call for hours of simmering to extract the nutrients into the broth. This isn’t a project for a rainy afternoon, but can take 24-48 hours of simmering. The thought of leaving an open flame unattended for 48 hours gives me anxiety, so I was never going to make bone broth the traditional way. Enter the Instant Pot. While you can make a truly yummy broth in as little as 2 hours using the Instant Pot, I highly recommend letting this go overnight. I discovered this by accident one evening, when I fell asleep waiting for my broth to finish. When I woke up the next morning, I felt like Rumpelstiltskin had paid me a visit overnight, and turned my broth into liquid gold. It is hard to describe broth as creamy, but this truly was almost velvety to drink. The Instant Pot kept the broth in a controlled and sealed environment while I slept, and clearly magic had occurred. I am sure there is a scientific reason for it, but I’m just going to keep thinking it was magic. Once you have finished cooking your broth, you need to strain it. Some blogs call for special straining equipment, but I just use a regular kitchen strainer. A bit of the herbs and pepper may end up in the broth, but I actually like that bit of sediment. I think it adds flavor. I will typically let the strained broth sit in the fridge for a few hours so I can skim off additional fat, but it is perfectly fine to eat immediately. Store the broth in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen in individual portions for a few months.
Enjoying your Bone BrothIf starting your day with a cup of soup doesn’t sound appealing, you aren’t alone. Luckily, broth is a fantastic base, and can be used in a lot of your other recipes. Most of the time, I’ll heat up the broth on the stove top, adding chopped carrots, celery and some leftover chicken for an easy soup. Sometimes I throw in some cauliflower rice as well or sweet potato noodles. Instant Pot bone broth is also great to add flavor and nutrients to regular recipes. I use it to deglaze pans, make sauce, or poach vegetables and eggs. I also use it to replace wine in some of my recipes, to keep them paleo/ Whole30. Anything you would typically use regular stock for, you can substitute in bone broth. If the hype is to be believed , it will not only elevate the flavors you would get from a traditional chicken stock, but will basically make you a super hero.
Instant Pot Bone Broth
- 2 small bird carcasses (I like using a duck and a chicken combination) along with necks and giblets.
- 3 large carrots, washed (leave skin on)
- 3 celery stalks, washed
- 3 large parsnips, washed (leave skin on)
- 1 head of garlic (cloves whole, but peeled)
- 1 large yellow onion, skin removed and quartered
- 3 turmeric bulbs, washed and cut in halves (or 2 tsp powdered turmeric)
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 pieces (or 1 tbsp chopped ginger)
- 20 sprigs fresh parsley
- 20 sprigs fresh dill
- 20 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp pepper corns
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a roasting pan with tinfoil, and place bones, neck and giblets in a single layer. Roast for 45 minutes, or until a rich golden brown. Check bones regularly to make sure they do not burn.
- When the bones have been roasted, place them in the bottom of the instant pot. Add the other soup ingredients to the pot. You may need to cut the carrots, parsnips and celery into smaller pieces so everything fits. Fill the Instant Pot to the "max fill" line with water.
- Seal the Instant Pot, and make sure steam valve is closed. Using the manual setting, set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 120 minutes.
- When Instant Pot has finished, let the steam release naturally. The best results for the broth come if you let the soup sit overnight in the Instant Pot (while still on) - but it will still be great if you only have 2 hours.
- Strain the broth from the mixture of vegetables and bones (which can be discarded). Store the broth in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze in individual portions for up to three months.