Friday, January 30, 2015

Broth is the new Red Bull: The latest trend in energy drinks

Traditional bone broth, made with water, bones, meat and vegetables simmered together, is becoming the trendiest new health food since smoothies came along. When I read in a recent TIME article that there’s even a bone-broth boutique in (where else) New York City, it just goes to show: everything old is new again.

Whether the focus on meat is an offshoot of the Paleo diet, or extra cold winter weather has created a fresh appreciation for soup, I think homemade broth is a great cure for the mid-winter blahs. Here at Berryridge Farm, I’ve been on a real soup kick lately. While I’m not a big meat eater, I always make my soups with homemade poultry broth. Lots of recipes start with bones and uncooked meat (the TIME article included a recipe for chicken broth, using both) but for me, it’s easiest to use the carcass of a roasted chicken or turkey.

I roasted a 15-pound turkey for our New Year’s dinner, and did something a bit different this time. While I have long stuffed the bird cavity with onion and sprigs of sage and thyme from the garden, I took a chance and followed the suggestion of my sister Patricia, a splendid cook and baker (you can find her at I rubbed the outside of the bird with olive oil and lots of herbs and spices before roasting as usual.

My homemade rub included not only Betty Crocker-approved salt and pepper, but loads of garlic powder, cumin, chili powder and Italian seasoning. Once I got the bird rubbed down, and set more sage leaves on the skin, I was like, with all these spices this bird is going to taste kinda…funky. But, I figured, no guts, no glory, so I went with it.

The meat turned out to be more flavorful than any turkey I’d ever roasted! Not at all over-seasoned. So I had high hopes for the broth. The next day, after picking the bird nearly clean I stuffed the carcass into my big Dutch oven, and filled the pot with water. After bringing the pot to a gentle boil, I turned the burner down to its lowest setting for a 2 ½ hour simmer.

The broth smelled fabulous. I strained out the solids and as soon as the broth had cooled, I stuck it in the fridge for soup making the next day. While John and I are as health conscious as any other Boomers, I did something entirely unprecedented: I used the broth without skimming off the thin layer of fat that had solidified on top.

My basic recipe: (amounts and prep are up to you)
Saute chopped onion, celery, peeled carrots and parsnips and fresh garlic in lots of olive until they start to get soft. If I have kale I cut it up that too (don’t use the tough center ribs). The soup is extra yummo if you do one additional step: Chop some potatoes (I use Yukon gold taters from the garden) and peeled sweet potatoes and roast them in the oven with a little olive oil until tender.

Next, pour in your homemade broth. Add a good quantity of cut-up turkey and a half cup of French lentils and bring the pot to a simmer for at least another half hour.

If I want a brothy soup, I precook the lentils. For a more stew-like dish, you can do as above. Because the roasted potatoes are likely to fall apart in the soup if you simmer them too long, I wait to add them until the last 10 minutes of cooking.

My fat-rich soup was hands-down, the absolute best soup I have ever made. The extra fat makes the soup far more filling and satisfying than any low-fat broth.  Given the cozy feeling and all-around sense of well-being you get from homemade soup, it seems to me a little turkey fat has to be good for you...especially now that full fat dairy foods have been removed from the “bad foods” list.

How I regret all those years I bought into the “saturated fat will kill you” mindset and ate margarine—margarine!—instead of butter! So in the spirit of being okay with wholesome fats in real food, I hope you’ll use full fat homemade broth in your next soup recipe…and I’d love to know how it turned out!