Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nourishing the Homestead

    This week our homestead braced itself to face freezing temperatures and plenty of nasty drizzle. A roaring fire, a hot cup of coffee, and a simmering pot on the stove are the only ways to warm work weary bodies. One wonderfully frugal and amazingly nourishing way to feed the homestead family is a steamy bowl of bone broth soup. Made from chicken or beef bones, the broth is rich in nutrients and minerals- the addition of herbs and greens add healthful antioxidants and flavor.   I can't stress enough the blessing of freezing/canning your own stock; you just can't buy it! Personally, I cook for stock 24 hours..12 with meat/12 with bones and juices; this way all the nourishing goodness is pulled into the broth. We use our bones more than once, adding in fresh veggies and water letting it simmer another 24 hours. Once drained, I freeze broth for future use (freezing some of the meat for emergency meals).
    As far as vegetables, we use what's on hand; soup works with garden availability. Sometimes it has tons of veggies; sometimes only a few. Herbs are generally fresh if available, but I do dry herbs for winter, and use them when I don't want to slosh through the mud to get some.


1 whole bird, skinned and washed or 1 roast, bone in
8 cups water (or enough to cover)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 onion
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 chilies (fresh or dried)
1" nub ginger
Place all ingredients in a stock pot (or crock pot) and cover. Simmer 12 hours- low and slow. Remove the bird/roast- take the meat off the bones and refrigerate until needed. Place the bones back in the stock pot and simmer 12 more hours..skimming if needed.
The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it is. 
After 24 hours, strain through a fine mesh sieve (or cheese cloth), discarding bones/veggies. 
Either freeze the stock in quart containers or place it in a large pot and make soup.
NOTE: We are blessed with available beef bones straight from a butcher. When using only bones, I roast them in the oven 400 degrees for 45 minutes. This gives a nice smoky flavor and gets the marrow working before they simmer. You don't have to roast first, but I like the flavor it brings.
Broth from above (fresh or thawed)
4 onions, coarsely chopped
8 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 celery stocks, coarsely chopped
2-4 zucchinis, thick sliced
1 small head broccoli, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 inch of ginger, grated
2-4 tablespoons sea salt
2-4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
small bunch basil, rosemary, sage and oregano
a large bunch of thyme
meat from earlier cooking
fresh parsley (to top at serving)

In a stock pot, simmer all ingredients (except the meat and parsley) until veggies are fork tender. Stir in meat just to warm..adding parsley at serving time. 
This soup freezes well in serving portions or quarts.
   We have been eating this soup for several years now; it's a perfect cool weather meal flexible for many variations. These nourishing soups are also perfect when recovering from illness, detoxing after heavy meals (or seasonally), and after a nasty migraine. My guys like their soup with a mess of crushed crackers or a hot flaky biscuit!

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