We can hardly imagine weddings without it, or our grandmas and Sunday lunches. It used to serve as people’s panacea before there was health insurance. Nourishing, easy to digest and rich in taste, it soothes soul and body and I doubt I know anyone who would turn it down. Honest chicken broth (or a different kind – continue reading).
From a scientific perspective, broth is unique on a menu – it is actually warm salted water, rich in vitamins and minerals. Emphasis lies on adjectives “warm” and “salted”, since our stomach digests this type of fluid differently from ordinary water. To explain: Mucous membrane in the stomach absorbs non-salted water osmotically and then it is discharged in the form of urine. Salted warm water, which means soup or broth, passes through both, small and large intestines.
And now, a big discovery: soup is not broth and broth is not soup. And on top of that, not every broth is the same.
Classic soups are cooked for about an hour, together with vegetables or meat and with assistance of a good friend of all modern women with spatulas, including me – stock cube. That’s alright, but it can be done differently, and probably better. Let us shed some light on the mysteries of broth. We will start with language. In Slovak, the word ‘broth’ (vývar) means both a soup, and a thick, concentrated liquid made by long slow cooking which is then added to soups and forms their taste base. Broth is prepared in a different way and cooked longer than soup, which, as you have guessed, is reflected in its nutritional value.
After studying professional and lay literature and interviewing traditional cooks and grandmas happy to share their knowledge, I understood, that the notorious stock cube, bought in supermarkets, is actually a cheap and less healthy substitute of broth; that practically no one makes thick broths nowadays, including last grandma Mohicans, and I knew what I was going to bring my readers with pomp equal to bringing the Holy Grail. And I knew what would be simmering on my cooker from October till spring.
When making vegetable broth, in the first stage, calm as a Hindu cow, use root vegetables with tops, peelings and cuttings – what we would usually throw away. Gourmets know that tops and peels of root (or other) vegetables are most nutritional. Cook them in unsalted water and think about osmosis again. Since unsalted water is like a tabula rasa, it actively and joyfully pulls out vitamins, minerals and taste from the vegetables. When they are cooked, throw them away, because the vegetables gave everything they had to the water. If you want to have some vegetables on a plate, add new ones and cook until soft.
When making broth from bones (chicken, beef or other catch of the day), use the cuttings, add bones and find a good book or other God pleasing activity for the next couple of hours, even the whole day. Nutritional value differs, depending on the time of cooking. We cook it on the lowest heat, slowly, for a long time.
After 2 hours you get broth with gentle taste, rich in protein. This time is ideal for cooking vegetable broth and smaller bones or bones with meat (chicken).
Add 2 – 3 hours, and your broth will contain a lot of gelatin from cartilages full of collagen. Your joints are happy.
If you cook cartilages and bones 12 – 24 hours (depending on the type of bones), besides gelatin, you get valuable minerals that are released from bones only after a long time of cooking. Ideally you can crumble the bone in your fingers.
You can use the broth as base for soups, as flavoring for sauces or use it preventatively as home medicine – one tea spoon every morning. Broth will keep about 5 – 7 days in preserving jars in a fridge. You can freeze it, too.
If you are histamine intolerant, use only meat, not bones, and do not cook longer than 2 hours.
Good quality broth is full of amino acids, collagen, minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphor, silicon and sulfur, all in a form that is easily absorbed.
Broth can help improve immunity and reduce osteoporosis, it is beneficial for joints and has inflammatory effects. It replenishes nutrients when breast-feeding. Broth can bring relief to any stomach problems as it supports the gut health and healthy speed of food and waste passing. It reduces food intolerances and allergies.