By Henry Schliff
In mid-eighteenth century France, travelers would stop at inns to rest for the night. Eventually, innkeepers began doling out bowls of broth — then called restoratifs. This practice and name gave rise to the word restaurant: a place to restore one’s health and wellness.
Our mothers and grandmothers had it right all along.
When you are feeling “quamish to the gut” (old Ocracoke dialect), homemade chicken broth can soothe and boost the immune system. Properly prepared chicken broth has been used as a healing home remedy for thousands of years.
Below are few of its many benefits:
Since chicken broth is derived from bones, it is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon, sulfur and numerous other trace minerals in a form that is easily absorbed by the body.
Is rich in glycine which stimulates the secretion of stomach acid and helps to prevent acid reflux.
Is easy to digest and unlikely to irritate the intestinal tract. As a result, it is a healing tonic when one is suffering from a cold or flu virus, or any kind of intestinal distress such as diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome.
Gelatin in chicken broth promotes proper digestion of hard-to-digest foods such as meat, milk, beans and grains.
Gelatin also is a pure form of collagen which contains the proteins glycine, proline, glucosamine and chondroitin . These provide the body with the raw materials to rebuild connective tissue and so can ease joint pain and the symptoms of arthritis. These properties make it also beneficial for athletes whose joints are constantly under stress.
Simple whole-chicken broth
3 ½ to 4 lb. antibiotic free, humanely raised, whole chicken
If your chicken was purchased partially frozen place it in the refrigerator on a dish and let it defrost slowly overnight. Rinse the chicken well, inside and out, under cold running water. Place the chicken in a pot breast side up and pour in filtered water to cover the legs but leave the breast uncovered. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to the boil. Skim off impurities that rise to the surface.
Reduce the heat to simmer, partially cover the pot and cook the chicken for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pot completely. Set aside for 1 hour.
Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a large dish. Use your hands to disjoint the chicken and remove the skin, meat, fat and cartilage from the bones. Place the meat in a storage container to be used for sandwiches, salads, soups, tacos, enchiladas, and stir fries. Place the bones, cartilage, fat, skin, and accumulated liquid into a bag and store in the freezer. Note: if you purchase already-roasted chicken from a grocery store save the bones and add them to your bag of bones in the freezer.
To make the broth
When the bones, skin, and cartilage from a few chickens have accumulated in the freezer, place them in a large pot or slow cooker. Pour over filtered water to cover by a few inches. Add two tablespoons of cider vinegar (to help leach the minerals from the bones). Bring the pot or cooker to the boil. Reduce the heat to simmer. Partially cover, if using a pot. Cover completely if using a slow cooker. Simmer slowly over low heat for 6 to 24 hours (the longer you simmer the more healthful the broth).
When the broth is finished, pour it carefully into a sieve that has been placed over a large bowl. Using a large spoon, press firmly on the bones, skin, and cartilage to extract all the liquid. Throw away the remains and set the bowl with the broth aside to cool at room temperature.
Place the cooled broth into the refrigerator to cool completely overnight. The broth will keep well in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. When you are ready to use the broth, skim off and discard the fat that has hardened on the surface.
To eat, simply re-heat the broth, add salt to taste and some precooked rice or pasta.
A simple soup that I enjoy making at home is listed below.
Carrot Soup with Homemade Chicken Broth and Fresh Ginger
2 Tbs. olive oil
¾ cup peeled and chopped onions
1 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground cumin
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (preferably organic)
½ cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
4 cups homemade chicken broth
½ cup frozen green peas
Cook the onions in olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until they soften. Stir in the grated ginger, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add the carrots, sweet potato, and chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, until the carrots are tender (about 30 min.).
Let the soup cool slightly. Pour the soup into a sieve that is placed over a large bowl. Puree the cooked vegetables in a food processor. Add the pureed vegetables and cooking liquid back to the pot. Reheat the soup and add the peas. Cook briefly until the peas defrost and serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt if desired.
Henry Schliff has been the chef of a French, Italian, and Mexican restaurant and was most recently the owner of the Orange Blossom Bakery in Buxton. He is the author of two cookbooks