Want to know my secret plan for boosting immunity, fending off flu and dealing with the stress of the holidays? It may sound too easy but I’m going to consume plenty of homemade broth. Broth is a food with such restorative healing properties it’s often used as medicine to nurse the sick back to health. Bone broth contains all the nutrients present in the bones it’s made from — calcium, minerals, collagen, gelatin. It’s an easily absorbed supplement that you can never take too much of. On top of all that, it’s one of the most delicious foods I can think of. If my plan fails and I get sick, at least I’ll have plenty of broth in the freezer.
Last week I splurged and bought myself a slow cooker (aka crock pot). My scheme is to have an easy way to keep the broth coming as part of this survival strategy for the winter ahead. Crock pots are so inexpensive if you don’t have one, you can easily put one on your Christmas list and feel no guilt. Practically every thrift shop has a couple for sale, if you’d rather buy a recycled one. Making turkey broth in the slow cooker is insanely simple and gives us much of what we need to nourish our bodies and souls as the holiday season revs up.
Slow Cooker Broth
Turkey or chicken carcass or bones, excess skin and fat removed, some meat still attached is preferable
Stalk of celery with leaves
Onion, peeled and quartered
1/4 t peppercorns
Couple sprigs of thyme
Salt to taste
Place carcass or bones in the crock pot with carrot, onion, celery, peppercorns and thyme. Some people add garlic or leeks, I put a piece of peeled ginger in mine. I’ve heard that a splash or two of vinegar helps draw the nutrients from the bones into the broth.
Cover the carcass with cold water, set the temperature on low. If parts of the bones stick out above the water, it’s not a problem and may even add to the flavor. Come back eleven or twelve hours later and voila — you’ve made broth. Taste for salt and add as needed.
Strain and discard the vegetables and bones and let the broth cool before storing it in the fridge or freezer.
I made my first batch overnight thinking how easy it would be to wake up to the finished broth. I can’t explain it but there’s something strange about waking up during the night to the smell of cooking food. It has the ability to weave it’s way into your dreams and when you get up in the morning, it’s almost like you’ve been eating it all night. This could partially be due to our small house. If your kitchen is a separate space, or if you think this is as silly as it sounds while I’m writing it, please go ahead. Theoretically, it’s a great idea but from now on, I’m going to start mine in the morning.
If you’d rather not have another appliance and want to make broth on the stove top instead, the instructions are basically the same. You can refer to my turkey soup recipe from last year here.
After Thanksgiving, just when I thought I couldn’t cook one more meal, I started craving a bowl of steamy homemade soup. Nothing heavy or complicated, instead I wanted something restorative and comforting like Thai soup. Using my homemade turkey broth, I made up a not-completely-local-or-authentic version of Tom Yum or spicy Thai soup.
Tom Yum Turkey Soup
6 cups rich turkey (or chicken) broth
2 T olive oil or butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 hot chilis, finely chopped to taste (I used a couple of teaspoons of hot chili garlic sauce)
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves and root end removed, cut into 2″ pieces (an alternative to lemongrass is the zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime)
4T asian fish sauce
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups washed spinach
Handful of cilantro, chopped
4 baby leeks, white part only, chopped
In a soup pot, lightly saute shallot, garlic, chili, ginger & lemongrass in oil or butter.
Add broth, mushrooms, fish sauce, lemon and lime juice to the pot simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add coconut milk and simmer gently for a few minutes until warmed.
Add spinach and warm just until wilted.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and chopped leeks.
If you want, you can add some strips of turkey with the coconut milk.
Yum, tom turkey!