The Bones Have It!

Talk about nutrient dense! What could be better than bone broth? food-talk-4-u-grandmother-cookingDo you know why? Yes, Mom gave us chicken broth when we were under the weather, but did you know that savory bone broth just might keep you out of “bad weather”?

Particularly in terms of osteoporosis? Being gluten and grain free enables our bodies to better absorb calcium and other minerals because there are no phytates blocking that process. (1) So, bring on rich bone broth as something just to drink everyday as many are doing, but also as a basis for some yummy soup.

chicken-shot-21Honestly, there are so many wonderful foods we can be eating every day, I have a hard time fitting them all in; but I do try to whip up a vat of sturdy bone broth at least once or twice a month. In the fall I use ox tails, but right now it’s chicken!

Right here, I have to make an addendum before going to the recipe below. Is it broth or is it stock? I have just finished ready several postings from about the web and rather than having things clarified, the issue is even murkier than before. So to avert a landslide of bad press, I am sharing a recipe that cooks meat-laden bones and flavor-enhancing vegetables for a while, removing the meat and returning bones for a lengthy simmer for the purpose of making a soup base. Call it what you will.

I have learned today of another way to do things by just using bones

Ox tail bones
Ox tail bones

for the sole purpose of making a perfectly clear ‘broth’ that may be even healthier. According to Summer Brock’s recent post, she parboils the bones-only broth for a few minutes and discards the water before the 24-48 hour boil and simmer in a new vat of water. This eliminates some of the foam junk that accumulates in the beginning that may be not that beneficial to consume. This method renders a very rich ‘broth’ that can be the base for some Pho or just used as a daily bone-boosting beverage.

Having said all that, I have adapted a recipe by Kelly Bejelly (in her blog A Girl Worth Saving) for Chicken and Dumplings by adding a couple ingredients, vastly extending the cooking time, and staging things differently because of the more beneficial cook time. When these bones are finished, the cartilage at the end of the bones has turned to jelly and the ends of the longer bones are practically falling off!

chicken-feet-1024x680Bones are the operand word here; bones, joints, necks, and –yes- chicken feet! OMG! You may say, but it’s true! I actually have run out of chicken feet for this batch, but they are easily found at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Buy a bag of chicken feet, use 3-4 and freeze the rest! This may be the part of the soup making process you need to hide from your family. We are not going to eat those poor feet, but they add so much gelatin and collagen which makes bone broth worth its weight in gold!

Chicken and Nut Dumpling Soup

To make the broth:

Chicken parts – This time, I used 4 leg/thigh quarters, 2 wings, back and rib bones (saved the breast meat for kabobs)

1 ½ – 2 tsp. of poultry seasoning

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 Tbs. gelatin dissolved and stirred into ½ cup water

2 carrots peeled and cut into large pieces

½ onion cut into large pieces

3 ribs of celery cut into large pieces

Your soup pot should look something like this:

Cover contents with water – it took 10 cups for me – and add about 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps to break down the bones and to release their minerals.

food-talk-4-u-soup-simmeringBring to a gentle boil, reduce to a simmer, and forget about it for 3 hours. At this point, I use a slotted spoon to bring the meat/bones out into a bowl. Let the meat/bones cool, and remove most of the meat but return all bones and clumps of cartilage to the broth. Save the cooked chicken meat to finish the soup or to use for other purposes. The bones should continue to cook for a total of at least 12 hours. With my sensitive sense of smell, I am not a fan of over-night cooking, but if you are not bothered by cooking aromas in your sleep, go for it. I usually cook several hours one day, cool off the pot, and place it in the refrigerator until next days’ simmer.

Once the bones are falling apart, strain the broth using a colander or sieve and a large bowl or another soup pot. Discard the bones and the way-over-cooked veggies. You could stop here and just drink a cup – full of broth every day; many do. If you want to go on to soup, keep cooking!

To make the soup

Cut into your favorite soup-sized pieces:

2-3 carrots

½ onion

2-3 ribs of celery

Cut up and add as much of the cooked chicken meat as you like at this time, using the rest for other purposes such as chicken salad.
Add to pot of broth to simmer. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

While the veggies are cooking, prepare the Nut Dumplings as follows:

1/3 cup of broth, cooled

½ cup Tapioca flour

1 ½ cups of sliced or slivered almonds, preferably have been soaked and dehydrated to inactivate the phytates which will make the broth’s mineral richness more absorbable to the body.

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. poultry seasoning

kneading_doughPlace the Tapioca flour, almonds, salt, and seasoning into a food processor or blender and process until the nuts are pretty much like flour. With the machine running, gradually add the cooled broth to the flour mixture until you have soft dough. Shape the dumplings to your preferred size by scooping out a spoonful of dough into your hands and gently rolling into balls. I like making really small ones, pinching off a bit of dough using an iced teaspoon, and dropping it into the pot.

Bring the soup to a low boil, and add shaped dumplings gradually. At this point, you could also add some quick-cooking vegetables as well: small broccoli florets, zucchini or summer squash. I also add a lot of fresh parsley leaves, chopped, at this time for added richness!

When veggies and dumplings are cooked, serve and garnish with added parsley if desired. Bon appetite!


(1) The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf, pg. 93

Disclaimer: The information being discussed in these blogs is NOT intended to replace a relationship with a qualified health care professional. Foodtalk4you blogs endeavor to empower people through the exploration of publicly available resources of information about human anatomy and physiology, and how different foods affect the human body. Readers should seek the advice of their qualified health care providers with any questions about their medical conditions or health status before attempting any dietary, exercise, or lifestyle changes.

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