What’s the deal with bone broth?


The latest diet craze is bone broth, long-simmered broth made with roasted bones. Or, what we used to call brown stock. Paleo diet proponents appeared to be the first to cotton on to this classic culinary tradition made new again as a magic elixer of health, touting its ability to help you lose weight, grow hair, improve your skin, reduce inflammation—you know the drill. Then a restaurant in NYC started selling $5 cups of broth through a self-serve window. Bone broth, coming to a food truck near you.

Some say to sip a cup three times per day to get the full benefit. Though the scientific community is not sold on the idea that sipping collagen will help you build collagen, generations of grandmothers have been spooning broth to countless numbers of under the weather children. They don’t call chicken soup Jewish penicillin for nothing. Making your own has always been a good thing—stock is nutritious, the culinary building block for toothsome soups and sauces, and so cosy, just the thing for a cold winter’s day.

The key is long and slow cooking to get all the richness, minerals and gelatin from the bones into the stock.

Whether you call it bone broth or brown stock or home-made boullion, get out that stock pot and start simmering. You’ll be right on trend and have lots of tasty soup too.


[doptoggle title=”Good Basic Beef Stock” icon=”19″ activeicon=”20″]Good Basic Beef Stock (brown stock or beef broth)

Classic brown stock is made with roasted veal bones. If you can find, use, but beef bones will give you a beefier flavour. The bones should be fairly clean but don’t worry if there is some meat or tendon attached. Don’t rush the process. The long, slow low-heat cooking infuses the liquid with every bit of goodness and flavour that is in the bones and vegetables.

4-6 lbs bones, cut into manageable pieces
drizzle canola oil
2 T tomato paste
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 stalks celery, each cut into thirds
2 carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 c white wine
1 handful flat-leaf parsley including stems
4 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary (optional)
2 bay leaves
2 t whole black peppercorns

Arrange bones in a single layer in a roasting pan. Drizzle oil over and turn to coat. Roast, turning once and stirring often for even browning, until beginning to brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and add tomato paste. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds to brown the paste, which takes the edge off the acidity and concentrates the sweetness, then add vegetables. Return to oven and roast until vegetables are browned and tender and bones are deeply browned, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer bones and vegetables to a large stockpot, spoon off fat from roasting pan and discard. Add water and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from bottom with a wooden spoon. Boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes, then pour into the stockpot.

Add enough water to stockpot to cover bones and vegetables by 2 inches. Bring to just under a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer; you’ll see bubbles breaking the surface occasionally. Add herbs and peppercorns and simmer, partially covered, over low heat for 8 hours or overnight, adding more water as necessary to keep everything submerged.

Carefully pour stock through a sieve into a large heatproof bowl or another stockpot. Do not press on the solids and discard after the liquid is separated. Stock will be dark brown. Skim off fat if using immediately or let cool completely (in an ice water bath, if desired) before transferring to airtight containers. You can concentrate further by simmering to reduce by about ⅓. Refrigerate at least 8 hours to allow the fat to accumulate at the top; lift off and discard fat before using or storing. The stock will keep for three days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.

Beef Barley Soup
A childhood classic, rich and fortifying.

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ lb stew beef, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 med. onion, coarsely chopped
2 med. carrots, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
6 c beef stock
½ c dry white wine
¼ c barley, rinsed
3-5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
1 handful parsley leaves only, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the beef. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Reserve.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add remaining oil and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes, scraping the pot to loosen any brown bits.

Add the carrots and garlic and sweat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add stock, meat, barley and thyme. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, skimming the pot occasionally, until the barley is cooked and the meat is tender, about 50 minutes.
Ladle into deep bowls and serve, garnished with parsley.

Serves 6-8.

Quick Pho-like Beef and Ginger Soup
Use leftover steak or buy a small thin steak available at the meat counter (generally top sirloin, often labeled quick fry). This soup packs a pleasant heat due to the ginger, great if you feel a cold coming on.

2 c beef stock
1 sml. nub ginger sliced thin
½ carrot, shredded
2-3 leaves kale or other winter green, shredded
1 rsml. steak or equivalent leftover, sliced thin
1 sml. handful parsley leaves only
3-5 leaves basil

Heat stock and combine all ingredients except the parley and basil and cook until the steak is just pink. If using leftover beef, put in at the end just to heat up.

Serves 1-2.

[doptoggle title=”Chicken Stock” icon=”19″ activeicon=”20″]Chicken Stock
It’s easy to be a good cook when you have home-made chicken stock in your freezer and, once you get in the habit of making it on a regular basis, it’s easy to always have some.Use a stewing hen available occasionally from the UofA’s heritage chicken program, a carcass from a roast chicken, or bits and bobs you have been stockpiling in the freezer. Chop everything about the same size and don’t worry if you don’t have one herb or another on hand.

You will notice a lot of gelatin when the stock is chilled. This liquid gold will disappear into the stock when you heat it up.

1 chicken carcass
5 stalks celery, chopped
2 med. onion, chopped
2 lrg. carrots, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 handful parsley stems
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
8 c cold water

Place everything in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Remove foam, turn down heat and let simmer, covered, very gently for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. When ready, take the pot off the stove and carefully pour the mixture through a large strainer to remove the large bits of bone and vegetables. Then press through a smaller strainer or chinois to get a very clean stock. Refrigerate and use within 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Stracciatella (Roman Egg-drop Soup)

I love this soup. It tastes hearty without delivering a big whack of calories. As long as you have good stock in your refrigerator or freezer the rest of the ingredients are pretty much pantry basics.

There are probably as many recipes for stracciatella as there are cooks. Don’t be afraid to improvise. Use whatever greens you have in the fridge—kale, chard, even lettuce will do— or none, but the parsley and good cheeses are essential. The Reggiano is richer but you could use aged pecorino instead.

6 c homemade chicken stock
4 eggs
3 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 handful Italian parsley, chopped
2-3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
bunch spinach leaves (approx 1 c lightly packed) cut in thin strips
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
squeeze fresh lemon
sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Combine eggs, cheese, greens, herbs and nutmeg in a bowl. Whisk in a cup of cold stock. Season.

Bring the remainder of the stock to a boil. Whisk in the egg mixture so the egg forms fine strands (straccetti). Simmer for another few minutes, stirring constantly. Right before serving, squeeze in the lemon juice and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with a little more grated cheese on the side.

Serves 6

Yucatan Lime Soup (Sopa de Lima)
You’ll find variations of this soup all over the Yucatan peninsula. This is a recreation of one tasted at a little restaurant on Isla Mujeras. All that lime on a cold winter’s day is immediately refreshing.

4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 plum tomatoes, cored (you could use high-quality canned Italian tomatoes, not blackened)
2 habanero chiles
8 c chicken stock
4 limes (2 peeled of pith and roughly chopped, 2 halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise)
1 sprig thyme, leaves only, chopped
1 t dried oregano
8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
1 c finely chopped white onion
1 handful Italian parsley or cilantro, leaves only, chopped
fried tortilla strips, recipe follows

Arrange an oven rack 4″ from broiler and heat broiler to high. Place tomatoes, garlic, and chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 15 minutes for tomatoes, 10 minutes for garlic, and 6 minutes for chiles. Remove stems and seeds from chiles, slice into thin strips and set aside. Transfer tomatoes and garlic to a food processor along with 2 cups stock and 2 peeled limes; puree until smooth, at least 2 minutes.

Pour through a fine strainer into a large saucepan and stir in remaining stock. Add thyme, oregano and chicken. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through about 25 minutes. Remove chicken and transfer to a bowl to cool. Discard bones (or save to make stock) and shred the chicken into fine strips. Set aside. Season soup with salt and pepper.

To serve divide onion, chiles, sliced limes, shredded chicken, parsley and fried tortillas among serving bowls. Ladle soup into bowls, and serve immediately.

Fried Tortilla Strips

2 c canola oil, for fryingd
12 corn tortillas, cut into ¼” thick strips

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium- high heat. Working in batches, add tortilla strips, and fry, tossing until crisp and browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside until ready to use.

Serves 4-6.

[doptoggle title=”Fish Stock” icon=”19″ activeicon=”20″]Fish Stock
Home made fish stock adds a fresh depth of flavour to chowders, paella, risotto, any fish dish. Use bones from sweet white fish such as snapper, monkfish, sea bass or cod, not oil-rich fish such as salmon or mackerel. You may have to stockpile bones in the freezer until you have enough to warrant pulling out the stockpot.

2 kg (about 4 pounds) clean fish bones
½ c dry white wine
2 med. carrots, thinly sliced
2 med. onions, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 handful Italian parsley leaves and stems roughly chopped
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 T black peppercorns
sea salt

Combine fish bones and wine with just enough water to cover). Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam from the top of the stock as it approaches boiling, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns. Add more water. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the stock from the stove, stir and allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and season lightly. Use immediately or cover after it has completely cooled. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Fish Soup
A one bowl meal can be so satisfying not to mention easy to put together.

4 T butter
2 med. carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
3-5 sprigs thyme
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 sml. can whole peeled plum tomatoes in juice
2 c fish stock
1½ lbs skinless cod or halibut fillet, cut into 1½-inch pieces

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, shallot, and 3 thyme sprigs; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juice. Simmer, breaking up tomatoes into bite-size pieces, until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in stock and fish; return to a simmer. Remove from heat. Serve with buttered toast.

Serves 4.

Oyster Stew
Rich and luxurious, this oyster stew is a bravura dish, yet, simple and straightforward to make. The quality of the ingredients is key, use good home-made stock and fresh oysters, not canned, as is the timing; this dish waits for no one. Have warmed bowls ready as the soup should be served immediately.

30 oysters or equivalent shucked*
4 T butter
2 shallots, minced
white part of one leek, chopped fine 1 sprig fresh thyme
½ c white wine or brandy
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper to taste
4 c fish stock
1 c heavy cream
grating fresh horseradish or 2 to 3 drops hot sauce

Strain the oysters to remove any stray bits of shell or sand. Chill oysters and liquid separately.

Melt butter over medium heat in a wide saucepan. Stir in shallots and leek and saute until translucent and soft. Blend in garlic. Cook 30 seconds. Deglaze pan with wine and pour in stock and oyster liquid. Simmer for about five minutes. Check seasoning.

Whisk in cream and let cook for about 5 minutes to marry flavours. Check for seasoning and add hot sauce or horseradish, if using. Turn down the heat and carefully add the oysters. Cook just until the edges start to curl. Take off the heat and ladle into waiting soup bowls. Dust with chopped parsley.
Serves 4.

*Buying your oysters pre-shucked is ideal for soup and generally a bit less expensive.

[doptoggle title=”Miso” icon=”19″ activeicon=”20″]Miso
Brown stock is not the only traditional broth undergoing a new age makeover. The fermented Japanese food called miso has become mainstream.

Miso is made by fermenting soybeans, barley or rice with salt and koji (aspergillus oryzae). The thick paste that results keeps well and has a pleasing buttery texture.

Chock full of B-vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fibre and good bacteria from the fermentation process, miso is also high in umami, bringing a rich and satisfying, if salty, flavour to a dish.

It’s also a quick fix if you don’t have any stock; a spoonful or two mixed in hot water makes a lively base for soup. It’s not necessary to boil or cook for a long period of time.

There are three kinds of miso, classified by colour, which indicates how much fermentation the grain or bean has undergone: shiro (white) fermented the least with the mildest flavour; yellow (shinshu) and red (aka) miso, fermented the longest with the saltiest, most assertive flavour.

Miso Broth

1 c water
1 T miso
1 green onion, chopped
½ carrot, grated

Boil water, take off the boil and stir in a spoonful of miso. Whisk in onion and carrot and you have a simple restorative bowl of broth. You could also use dashi or chicken stock instead of water and add some dried seaweed.

Chicken Vegetable Miso Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
handful shiitake or other mushrooms, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 T vegetable oil
4 skinless chicken thighs
4 heads baby bok choy (or similar green) trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces
3 T miso
lime wedges, Srirachi and cilantro leaves (for serving)
6 c chicken broth

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, and celery. Cook until vegetables are just beginning to soften, 5-7 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken thighs from broth, remove meat from the bones, shred and return to pot. Add greens and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in miso and correct seasoning.

Pour into 4 bowls and pass the cilantro, lime and Srirachi.

Serves 4.[/doptoggle]