This recipe for Crock Pot Bone Broth couldn’t be any easier because your slow cooker does all of the work for you! In addition to being incredibly easy to make, homemade bone broth is rich in nutrients and minerals giving it tremendous health benefits.
One of my favorite the kitchen tricks is making my own vegetable broth from kitchen scraps. I keep a gallon sized Ziploc bag in my freezer and throw any vegetable peelings, trimmings, and ends from my food prep in it. When the bag gets full, I dump it into a large pot of water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for roughly 4 hours.
Last weekend, I picked up a pound of soup bones from my butcher for $2.19. I planned on making bone broth on Sunday, but it was 85˚ and the thought of having a pot of bone broth simmering away in my air conditionerless kitchen was unbearable. So, I got out my trusty Crock Pot and put it to work.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make this on your stovetop using a large pot. The downside is that you’ll have to stick around your house until it’s done which can take 24-36 hours. Since most people don’t feel comfortable sleeping, going to work, or running a quick errand with a pot of bone broth simmering on the stovetop, a slow cooker is ideal for this recipe.
The flavor of homemade broth is deep and rich and a thousand and one times better than any store-bought brand or bullion cube on the market. Plus, it is good for you, easy to store, and versatile.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
The health benefits associated with incorporating bone broth into your daily diet are plenty, but my top 3 favorites are:
Cool off this summery with a crisp watermelon and rhubarb gazpacho. This would be fantastic garnished with some crumbled feta. You could also add vodka for a spin on the classic Bloody Mary mix. Trust me!
Every year around this time gazpacho recipes start flooding my Pinterest feed. Gazpacho is a soup made with raw vegetables and served cold or at room temperature. Not only did the idea of cold soup never appeal to me, but I also never really understood the gazpacho craze. I mean, how is a raw, cold soup different from a smoothie? I didn’t get it.
When I made the switch to a Paleo diet, one of the things I missed the most was pho. Pho is a Vietnamese soup made with meat, vegetables, and rice noodles. Did you see the Man vs. Food Nation Super Pho Challenge episode? I am fairly certain I could crush that challenge with zero obstacles.
As I was typing this recipe up, it dawned on me that you could make the broth beforehand, freeze it, and make this soup during the week in smaller quantities and in about 20 minutes. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner! The next time I make this, I will have to remember that.
This is a copycat recipe that was inspired by the beef noodle soup from Penny’s Noodles in Chicago. When I was in graduate school, I used to pick this soup up on my way home from class and it was always so hard not to tear into the bag and eat it immediately! I like to eat this soup alongside a crisp, cold, cucumber salad.
You’ll notice this recipe calls for star anise. Personally, I think that is a key flavor in this dish and should not be omitted. Star anise has a licorice flavor and adds a good layer of flavor to the broth. You can buy star anise online here if you cannot find it in your local grocery store.
My grocery store sells packaged chop suey meat. If your grocery does not sell chop suey beef, you can use stew beef. You’ll need to cut the stew beef into very small pieces before you cook it.
In a pan over medium heat, toast the cloves, star anise, and cinnamon until fragrant to open the flavors. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the spices from the pan so they do not burn and set aside. (See note).
In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the shallot, garlic, and ginger in the coconut oil for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly so the garlic does not burn.
Add vegetable broth and spices and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 hours.
For the soup
Fish the whole spices out of the broth. Add the beef and bring the soup to a boil.
Reduce the heat and add the mushrooms, broccoli, and kale. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
Add the chili paste. Stir, taste and adjust the seasoning. If the soup is tasting a bit flat, add a teaspoon of sea salt to bring out the flavors.
Serve with any or all of the garnishes above!
I use ground cardamom in this recipe because I did not have whole cardamom. Ground spices burn quickly; therefore, I do not toast the cardamom. I just add it right to the broth in step 3.
Making homemade broth is incredibly simple and seems to really impress people. It is also inexpensive, totally customizable, and so much better tasting than any canned broth or bullion cube on the market. I make homemade vegetable broth approximately once a month. I keep a gallon sized freezer bag in my freezer and throw any vegetable trimmings and ends from my food prep into it.
When the bag gets full, I dump it out into a large pot of water and 4-5 hours later have a rich, dark amber broth that is perfect to use as a soup base. You can refrigerate the broth if you are using it that week or freeze it for later use. I like to freeze my broth in ice cube trays and use them to cool down hot soup. I use this method for cooling down my hot coffee.
Ice Cube Tray Measurements
2 cubes = 1/4 cup
4 cubes = 1/2 cup
6 cubes = 3/4 cup
8 cubes = 1 cup
This is also a great way to use up any vegetables you won’t be able to eat before they spoil. The smell that will seep throughout your house is amazing as this broth is simmering. The hardest part about making broth is waiting
Ingredients that can be used:
Carrots (shavings, tops, trimmings)
Parsnips (shavings, tops, trimmings)
Celery (leaves, base, trimmings)
Onion/Shallots (all types! skins and trimmings)
Garlic (skins and trimmings)
Mushrooms (whole or scraps)
Fennel (trimmings, base, tops, scraps)
Leeks (base, tops, trimmings)
Turnips – I always toss a whole one into any batch of stock
Any vegetable you have on hand!
Herbs (rosemary, oregano, parsley, whatever you like!)
The great thing about this method is that your broth will change flavor depending on the scraps you collected in the bag. Generally, I make sure to add a few garlic cloves, an extra onion that is chopped into quarters, and a turnip. I find the turnip gives the broth a nice earthy undertone that is otherwise missing.
Homemade Vegetable Broth
1 turnip, quartered
1 onion, quartered
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 bag of vegetable trimmings*
Water – The amount of water you start with will depend on the size of your pot. Generally speaking, you want the water to reduce to about 1/3 of the original amount. The more it reduces, the more concentrated your broth will be.
Salt and pepper**
*NOTE: If you do not collect trimmings and want to make broth from scratch just use whole ingredients from the list above.
**Generally, I don’t add salt or pepper to my broth. I usually wait until I am cooking with it to add salt, pepper, herbs, etc. However, you should experiment and season according to your taste!
Place all items in a pot and fill with water. Leave about 1 inch from the top of the pot.
Bring water to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for ~4 hours. Times will vary depending on the size of your pot so be sure to check periodically the first time you do this.
When the water has reduced to about 1/3 of the amount, remove from heat and strain.
Let the veggies cool and then squeeze them over the broth to make sure you get all the flavor you can out of them.
Strain again to remove any big chunks of vegetables.
Freeze in ice cube trays and store ice cubes in a large freezer bag.
I apologize for being off the radar for a while. I have been traveling, battling the flu, and getting back into the swing of school. I have a very tough quarter ahead of me preparing for student teaching, but I am so incredibly excited! For those of you that don’t know, I am a full-time Graduate student working towards my M.Ed in Elementary Education. When I graduate, I will also have endorsements in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and (hopefully) Art. Since my school does not have a film program, I have to work with the state of Illinois to see if they will count my film and photography undergraduate classes towards and art endorsement. When I graduate, I hope to be a middle school English/Social Studies teacher. I love middle school aged kids, I can’t wait to work with them.
For my student teaching, I have been placed in a Kindergarten classroom, which I am really excited about. When I am observing in upper grade classrooms, I tend to see the following pattern a lot. The teacher teaches a lesson, students to an activity, students are told if they finish early they can read silently at their desks or work on an unfinished assignment. Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with this pattern, but this type of structure wouldn’t work in a kindergarten classroom because not all kindergarteners can read. Many kindergarteners can’t work independently either. Many still need a ton of guided instruction. Therefore, I will have to design lessons and activities that take the entire lesson time. It is both intimidating and exciting. I honestly feel like I am going to learn so much about classroom management and lesson planning in this classroom!
Wait. Isn’t this post called Chunky Chicken Soup? You’re right. It is!
It seems like everyone I know came down with or is coming down with the flu. The most popular home remedy for the flu is chicken soup. I love soup! It’s quick to make, easy, inexpensive, and comforting.
I have to be honest with you. The recipe below is my best guess as to how I made this. I rarely tend to measure when I am making soup. I will be better about that in 2013!
Chunky Chicken Soup Serves 4
1 1/2 cups gluten-free, brown rice pasta (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
3-4 stalks of celery, sliced
3-4 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scant tablespoon dried oregano
1 packet chicken bullion
6-8 cups water (use and adjust according to how chunky you want your end product to be)
*You can cook and shred the chicken yourself or buy pre-cooked chicken and shred it yourself. You can also buy pre-cooked chicken and cube it. Either way, make sure your chicken is pre-cooked as this saves a ton of time.
In a large pot over medium heat, cook onions and carrots until onions are translucent.
Add garlic and celery, stir, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Add water (start with 6 cups and add more if you think you need it), bullion packet, and oregano and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and add chicken and pasta. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.
You can serve with bread or oyster crackers if you are not gluten-free or enjoy as is!
I hope everyone is having a happy 2013 so far! We will return to our regularly scheduled blogging next week.
Are there any curry lovers out there? I am dying to share this recipe with someone because it is hearty, comforting, and oh so tasty. It’s the type of soup that warms you from the inside out. I threw it together on a whim last night and apparently nobody in my life likes curry! More for me, right?
Before we get to the recipe, I want to share a couple of notes about this soup and some substitution ideas. First, I used an acorn squash because it is what I had on hand. If you are new to using squash and do not have good knife skills, substitute with a butternut squash. The butternut squash is infinitely easier to peel and has a similar taste. If squash is not your thing, substitute with sweet potatoes. If neither squash nor sweet potatoes are your thing, try my chicken tortilla soup.
Second, this soup has an intense curry flavor. If you like curry, but you do not love curry, cut back to 1 teaspoon and use vegetable broth and water as the base instead of just straight water. As the soup is cooking, taste and add more curry as desired. Remember that it is easier to add more of an ingredient than to try to balance it out after the fact.
Third, do not throw out the squash seeds! The seeds are edible just like pumpkin seeds. For some reason, people do not think about toasting the seeds of other squashes, but they make a wonderful soup garnish or can be used on salads or as an on-the-go snack. I flavored my seeds with salt and Chinese five spice, but you can use anything you like to season your seeds. Some spices that compliment curry are cinnamon, ginger, chili powder, cumin, or cloves.
Now, on to the soup! This is the type of soup that you will want to make on a chilly winter day. The mere smell of curry warms my body as it seeps throughout the house. I almost can’t wait for the first real snowfall so I can make it again. This soup would be a great starter to a Thanksgiving meal even though the flavors are not necessarily traditional. By the way, how is Thanksgiving THIS Thursday? Where does the time go?
Just before serving, I added a tablespoon of chili paste. I use Huey Fong, which is the same company that makes Sriracha (aka rooster sauce). I think the chili paste adds a nice layer of heat to this soup. For you spicy food haters, I would not describe the flavor chili paste adds to this soup as spicy at all. It is not going to burn your mouth and make your eyes water, it just adds a little kick and enhances the overall flavor of this soup. Give it a try! If you are nervous about adding chili paste to the entire pot of soup, you can always put it on the table and have guests add it to their individual bowls as desired.
Curried Acorn Squash and Red Lentil Soup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed (see substitution ideas above)
1 cup red lentils
1 tablespoon curry powder (see substitution ideas above)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili paste (optional)
1 1/2 quarts water
In a large pot, cook onions and garlic in melted coconut oil, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
Add ginger and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add carrots and squash and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the curry and cumin and cook for about a minute. This will toast the spices and open their flavor.
Add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are cooked through and vegetables are tender.
If using, add 1 tablespoon of chili paste just before serving.
Serve warm and garnish with spiced acorn squash seeds.
Spiced Acorn Squash Seeds
Chinese five spice (see substitution ideas above)
Rinse and dry the seeds from 1 acorn squash.
Melt coconut oil in a small bowl and toss the seeds to coat evenly. If you do not have coconut oil, you can use olive oil.
Add 1 generous pinch of Chinese five spice and toss to evenly distribute.
Spread seeds onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Roast in a 375˚ oven for about 12 minutes. All ovens vary so you will want to watch the seeds and check on them periodically. They are done when they look toasted and golden brown.