When my family comes down with a cold or flu bug, I reach into my antique wooden recipe box for homemade chicken soup. If you thought that your grandma’s chicken soup remedy was just a cozy, feel-good family tradition, then think again! When made correctly, chicken soup is a great way to boost your immune system and help you get over the hump when feeling under the weather.
The secret is using homemade bone broth, which not only delivers out-of-this-world flavor but is also one of the more nutritious ways to help fight off illness in the cold and flu season. Bone broth boosts your immune system by the amino acids glycine and proline that are released in the cooking process. These help reduce inflammation in the respiratory system and improve digestion.
This rich and tasty bone broth also provides easily absorbable minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. The health benefits don’t stop there. Bone broth also delivers nutrients, such as glucosamine and collagen, which can reduce painful inflammation and promote healthy bones, teeth, joints, hair, skin, and nails.
When making bone broth, it is ideal to look for organic, free-range chicken since one of the purposes of bone broth is to extract nutrients from the bone marrow. When you purchase your chicken, you’ll want to make sure the organ meats (often called giblets) are included. These organ meats will often come wrapped together and stored in the chicken cavity. Simply remove them from their packaging and rinse with water before adding to your slow cooker.
This recipe calls for blending the cooked organ meats, such as liver and kidney, into the broth, which significantly increases the nutrient variety and density by adding even more vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and amino acids. Blending organ meats into your broth is a wonderful way to integrate the health benefits of organ meats into your family’s diet while avoiding the hurdle of getting your little ones to accept the unfamiliar taste and texture.
So what are these amazing health benefits of organ meats, you might ask? For starters, these little jewels are loaded with minerals like bioavailable iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iodine, calcium, potassium, sodium, selenium, zinc and manganese. They’re also packed with B vitamins such as: B1, B2, B6, folic acid and the all-important vitamin B12. Organ meats are also a good source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. If that wasn’t enough, organ meats also contain high amounts of essential fatty acids, such as the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. Whew! That was a mouthful and this isn’t even an exhaustive list of the nutrients found in organ meats, but I’m going to stop explaining and let you start cooking your way towards better health and wellness with this amazingly delicious and nutritious recipe.
- 1 large organic fresh whole chicken, with giblets
- 1 stalk organic celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
- 1 organic carrot, peeled and cut in thirds
- 1 organic white onion, quartered
- 1-2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 teaspoon sage
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 9-10 cups water
- Rinse chicken with water and place with the backside down and the breast side up in the bottom of a slow cooker. Sprinkle salt, pepper and sage over the chicken. Place vegetables, bay leaves and organ meats (also called giblets) loosely around the chicken. Cover with 9-10 cups water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Take the lid off the slow cooker and allow to cool slightly. Remove the chicken using two large spoons like tongs. Using a colander, strain the broth into desired container for cooking or storing. Pick out the organ meats and any chicken before discarding the vegetables. Bone the chicken and reserve the soft cartilage tissue with the organ meats. Place several cups of the broth in a blender or food processor and add the organ meats and cartilage. Cover with lid and process on high for 2-3 minutes until the broth is completely smooth. It is helpful to let the broth cool while you bone the chicken, however you still may need to stop occasionally and carefully open the lid to let out the steam. Combine the blended broth with the rest of the broth and salt to taste.
- You can use this broth immediately to create a delicious chicken stew, or you can use the chicken in a separate recipe and freeze the broth for later. If you let the broth cool in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, you can skim the fat off the top, which is especially important if using conventionally raised chicken. A great strategy to help overcome illness is to freeze some serving sized portions of broth in ice cube or baby food trays so you can pull them out of the freezer to heat and sip on when you’re fighting a bout of cold or flu.
- Another great option for making bone broth is to use the drippings and bones from a roasted chicken, such as our Roasted Garlic Basic Chicken. Simply place the drippings, bones, cartilage and organ meats from a roasted chicken in a slow cooker and add 10-14 cups of water, along with any additional vegetables, spices or herbs you desire. Cook on high until it comes to a boil, then set to low for an additional 12-24 hours. Using this simple method, you will have an incredibly savory bone broth ready to be blended with the organ meats as described above.