Since I accidentally ate some cookies with gluten the week before Thanksgiving (always read the label or ask the cook), which disturbed my gut, I’ve been making a batch of turkey vegetable soup with bone broth every few days. It is a wonderfully healing food that is easy to digest and provides lot of nourishment. It’s also a lovely way to spend a cold winter day, at home with a broth simmering, smelling great, heating my home, and later, tasting great and nourishing me deeply.
It takes a long time to make, but it’s worth it. I use turkey legs and/or thighs. They are marrow-filled bones that are easy to break, they are easy to take the meat off, they have plenty of meat, they are way less costly than turkey breast, and I like the flavor of the dark meat. Turkey is usually inexpensive this time of year, but you could do this with chicken or other poultry — or for that matter, with beef, lamb, or wild game.
For any of these choices, I prefer a pasture-raised, antibiotic-free animal.
Also, you can save the bones from Thanksgiving or Christmas turkeys and add them.
I put the turkey parts into a stockpot and fill it with filtered water. I add a handful of Himalayan pink salt crystals. I bring the pot to a boil and then let it simmer for about an hour, skimming off any foam that forms on the top. If I have frozen veggie scraps for stock, I add those. My favorite additions are the parts of onions, carrots, parsley, beets, greens, and lemons left from previous kitchen endeavors.
Note: I do not add potatoes, dried legumes, or grains/pasta because it makes it more difficult to digest. This soup should be as easy on the digestive system as possible.
I use tongs to remove the turkey parts, which I let cool, and then I pull the meat off the bones. I use the back of a heavy knife blade to whack the bones until they break. I return the bones along with the gristle, cartilage, and skin to the stock and let it simmer for hours.
I cut the turkey meat into bite-sized chunks and refrigerate it.
Since I’m using a gas burner and feel uncomfortable leaving it on while I’m asleep or away, I refrigerate the stock in the pot when I can’t tend it. I let the bones simmer for about 5 hours.
(Note: I later bought a gigantic 6-quart Crock-Pot and now use that for bone broth. I feel comfortable leaving home with broth simmering away in it. Maybe one day I’ll even get a pressure cooker to drastically shorten the task.)
Taste the broth occasionally and add herbs to taste. Parsley, rosemary, and thyme work really well, as do bay leaves. I like the tanginess of some fresh squeezed lemon juice in my broth as well. Add water when needed. You can reduce it (let the liquid evaporate down for more flavor) if you intend to freeze it. The longer it cooks, the more flavorful it becomes. Add salt to taste at the end. If you made more than you can use, refrigerate or freeze the rest.
If I don’t add lemon juice, I add apple cider vinegar. Both add to the flavor but shouldn’t be distinguishable. The broth just tastes brighter, and the acid leaches collagen out of the bones into the water, adding gelatin to the broth. That makes this broth full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals as well as the substances our joints need.
Some claims made for bone broth include healing the immune system, healing a leaky gut, and improving digestion, allergies, and brain health. It eases joint pain and inflammation. Some say it even rids the body of that dire first-world problem, cellulite! It is said add health to the skin, hair, nails, and teeth, as well. Google “bone broth” and you will find a slew of articles touting these health benefits and more. I find the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s food information to be particularly reputable.
When the broth has simmered long enough and cooled a bit, I get out a large bowl and set a colander over it. I very carefully pour the stock through the colander to separate the liquid from the bones and other ingredients, which can now be discarded. Pour the broth back into the stockpot.
Then I get out a large skillet and melt some ghee. I add chopped onions, celery, carrots, and beets. When they’ve cooked for 10 or so minutes, I add chopped garlic and stir for a minute*, and then add veggies to the broth. I also add chopped greens, frozen peas, tomato paste or diced tomatoes, and fresh minced herbs like parsley (lots), rosemary, thyme, and whatever else I have on hand that’s in season and savory.
Add the cut up turkey meat, stir well, and let it all simmer until the hard veggies (carrots and beets) are al dente. Taste, correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired, and serve.
You can eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s one of those dishes that just gets tastier.
*My friend Clarita, from a New Orleans restaurant-owning family, told me that her mama said never brown garlic with the onions because it burns easily and gets bitter.