If someone had told me there were a way to spend $10 to $20 and get (rich, flavorful) dinners for an entire week, I’d probably have imagined some sort of magic with rice and beans. But, speaking from day five of soups for dinner, I can tell you there’s another option—one that is crazy high in easy-to-absorb calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, as well as healing for our bones, teeth, and guts: perpetual bone broth.

How to Make Perpetual Bone Broth

As I mentioned in the last post, Tim and I left Little Seed Farm last week with more than good memories. James and Eileen had sent us home with a bag of grass-fed beef bones, too, and so first thing Saturday morning I set them on the stove to cook. Making homemade beef broth truly is as simple as the phrase “set them on the stove to cook,” because all it involves, literally, is placing a pot on the stove (or turning on a crockpot), inserting bones, covering them with filtered water, adding a little apple cider vinegar if you like (to pull out minerals), and adding any other vegetables or vegetable scraps you have on hand. Bring the mixture to a simmer, skim off scum as it collects on the top, and replenish the water as it goes down. In return you get rich, nutrient-dense broth to use in soups as you like.

Over here in the Mallon household, we make broth fairly regularly, almost every time we have meat for dinner I guess, but this week has been my first experience with perpetual broth. Whereas usually I let the bones cook for six to eight hours (as described here) before straining the bones and storing the stock in the refrigerator or the freezer, this time I let it keep cooking, deciding instead to ladle out stock each night for soup from our perpetually cooking pot. The experience has been such a positive one, with comforting, pot roasty soups every night, that I wanted to share about it here. Whether you’ve been making bone broths for years or the idea is entirely new, I hope this post will provide a solid framework for how to do it, why it matters, and ways to use it once it’s bubbling on your stove.

Perpetual Broth for Daily Soups

Step One: Get Your Hands on Some Bones
The most common way we make bone broth is with leftover chicken bones from a roast. We tend to stick to our old faithfuls in the meat department, like a salted chicken, cooked at high heat or, terrible as the photos are in this archived post, a version of this, with lemon shoved inside the bird and under the skin, an onion and some herbs and butter alongside it. We cut chicken off to eat, then stick the carcass and bones inside a large pot, following the same basic method outlined above (cover bones with water, add a little apple cider vinegar, simmer for 6 to 8 hours, skimming scum and replenishing water; strain and store). But even without a roast chicken on hand, there are easy ways to get your hands on bones to roast: You can buy them wherever you buy your meat. If it’s from your farmer, you can bet he has bones available. If it’s from your local grocery store, you might find soup bones packaged up in the meat department, but, even if you don’t, you can always ask and see if they’ll wrap some up for you from the back. We look for bones from organic and/or pastured animals that have not been fed gmo grains. A pack of soup bones usually costs $4 to $10, depending on the type and quantity of bones, but especially when compared with expensive cuts of meat, it’s a bargain.

Step Two: Carve out Time
Being that Tim and I both work from home, I prefer to use a stockpot on low heat on the stove rather than a crockpot for stock. That said, Jenny from Nourished Kitchen uses a crockpot method, and she keeps it going all week long. Whichever method you use, two important things to remember are to skim off scum, “Otherwise the broth will be ruined by strange flavors,” says Weston A. Price (think of scum as the undesirable stuff in the food, i.e., impurities, what you don’t need to eat) and to replenish water (as the soup cooks, water will evaporate, and you’ll need to keep adding more so the bones’ minerals can fill it).

What about when I leave the house? go to sleep? We took two approaches here. At night, we covered the stock pots, turned off the heat, and went to bed. This may not be necessary, but we’re paranoid about burning the house down, so it’s what we did. In the morning, we brought the soup to a boil before returning it to a simmer to cook all day. You could also refrigerate the pots while they’re not cooking if you prefer. Bonus with this method: The soup’s fat will rise to the top, making it easy to remove if you prefer a clearer stock (again, it’s a preference thing). For shorter windows of time, when I’d run outside or be gone for a little bit, I’d leave the soup filled high with water on super-low heat, returning it to a simmer when I was home.

Onions for Soup

Why make stock? The layman’s terms answer is that stock is super good for you. The more detailed, lengthy explanation would be that it’s high in several things that help your health, such as:

1. Glycosaminoglycans (you may have heard of glucosamine supplements) are good for your joints, according to Dr Shanahan of Deep Nutrition: “The health of your joints depends upon the health of the collagen in your ligaments, tendons, and on the ends of your bones. Collagens are a large family of biomolecules, which include the glycosaminoglycans, very special molecules that help keep our joints healthy.”

2. Gelatin (which we’ve talked about a little here and here) is incredibly healing to the gut, so anyone with digestive issues of any kinds (former Crohn’s patient here!), listen up. According to an article at Mind Body Green by Dr. Amy Myers, “The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients.”

3. Amino Acids have a long list of benefits, according to this “Why Broth Is Beautiful” article from Weston A. Price, which I’ll just point you to for more information because it is detailed!

In sum: There’s a reason greater than tradition for why grandmothers always told us to eat chicken soup when we had a cold. Bone broths can be wonderfully healing, as they are both nourishing and easy to digest.

Especially for women: One last thing about the benefits of bone broth I want to add is that I’ve read a lot about the ways it’s good for women’s health especially (example here.)

How to Make Soup from Perpetual Bone Broth

What to do with bone broth? You can sip bone broth on its own, salted to taste, but probably a lot of people won’t be into that. Next best option is soup. This week, for us, every night, that’s been sliced onions cooked in a little bit of broth until caramelized-esque in smell and color, then added to fresh kale and bone broth, with salt to taste. It’s wildly simple and yet wildly deliciously because the bone broth does most of the work for you.

Pot Roasty Kale Onion Soup

What does bone broth taste like? It depends on type of bones, but this time I thought it tasted like pot roast. Rich and meaty and satisfying.

How do I know when the bones are done? At some point, your bones will become super brittle and dry, and they will no longer be useful. We have had two pots going since Saturday, and, in one, the bones started to disintegrate—enough so that the bones looked like what Instagram friends could only assume was cheese or spongey bread. If you’re not sure if the bones are done, try feeling them with your hands and see if they’re dry and crumbly; if so, strain the soup and quit!

How to store leftover broth? We like to strain the stock and pour it into mason jars. If we’re going to use them within the week, we put the jars in the refrigerator. If we want to save them for later than that, we freeze them (word of caution: don’t fill them too full as the liquids will expand and potentially break your jars in the cold; likewise, let them cool to room temperature before freezing) and thaw when we’re ready to make soup.

Bone Broth Soups

So that’s bone broth! Such a marvel to me. Every time we make it, from the simplest to the most elaborate soups that come as a result, I think about that famous quote from Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

disclaimer: It should go without saying, but we’re not writing this post as your doctor or your health practitioner, so don’t take our advice without researching on your own. We’re just sharing what’s worked for us.

Perpetual Beef Broth

By: FoodLovesWriting.com

Serving Size: Variable**

Perpetual Beef Broth

Making perpetual beef broth could not be simpler, but it does require time. Before you get intimidated, know that in return for your efforts, you'll gain rich, flavorful stock that is high in minerals, nutrients, gut-healing gelatin, and more. Bone broth is also super affordable when you consider that a handful of bones becomes the base of dinners all week.

Ingredients:

  • Grass-fed Beef Bones*
  • Filtered Water
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Optional: any herbs, fresh vegetable peelings, etc. you have on hand

Directions:

Start by setting your largest stockpot on the stove and setting your beef bones inside. Add enough filtered water to cover the bones completely, and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Add a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and reduce heat to low, letting the pot simmer, uncovered---for several days and up to a full week. As it cooks, scum will rise to the top; use a spoon to skim it off and discard. Whenever the liquids get low, add more water.

Whenever you want soup for dinner, ladle some broth out of the pot and use it as you like. Continue this process until the bones are completely brittle and dried out, so that you could crumble them between your thumb and your forefinger. According to Nourished Kitchen that brittleness is an indication that the minerals and amino acids you’ve wanted to pull from the bones have been removed, and the bones have done their job for you. (I did this in two pots, and, in one, the bones were dry, brittle, and full of holes in 3 full days. In the other, it took a few days longer.)

Strain the mixture and discard the bones and scraps. Set in glass jars, broth may be refrigerated (for use that week) or frozen (for later use).

*You can easily buy these from a butcher (just ask about soup bones!) or, sometimes, they'll be pre-packaged up at Whole Foods.

Notes

**The amount of stock varies based on the length of time you let the stock go, how much water you add and ladle out for weeknight soups, etc.

http://foodloveswriting.com/2014/03/26/how-to-make-perpetual-beef-bone-broth-pot-roasty-kale-onion-soup/

Pot Roasty Kale Onion Soup

By: FoodLovesWriting.com

Serving Size: 2 to 3

Pot Roasty Kale Onion Soup

This is the soup we've had three nights in a row; it's basically sauteéd onions added to brewing beef stock, with kale and salt thrown in. The broth does all the heavy lifting in terms of knockout flavor, but the added onions take the fragrance up another notch.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 cups perpetual beef broth, divided
  • 1/2 large white onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups (625 g) packed baby kale (or chopped kale, spinach, or chard, etc.)
  • Optional: additional chopped vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, celery, etc.
  • Optional Toppings: sliced avocado, diced fresh kale, kale chips (!), tortilla strips, grated cheese, etc.

Directions:

Begin by caramelizing the onions in beef broth: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm a tablespoon of the beef broth, spooned right out of a perpetual pot you’ve got going, if you like (or out of reserved stock). Add sliced onions and salt, and stir everything together. Let mixture continue cooking for a few minutes, until the liquids absorb. Add another tablespoon or two of stock and repeat. There will be a lot of sizzling and a wonderful onion aroma flooding the kitchen, and all you have to do at this point is enjoy it and pay attention to the liquids. Any time the liquids have evaporated enough for the onions to start scalding the pan a bit, add more liquids. You can add a lot at a time or a little, but either way, let onions keep cooking in broth until liquids have evaporated and repeat. With 15 to 20 minutes, the onions will have taken on the brown color of the broth and be very soft. Remove from heat.

Place onions in a large saucepan over medium heat and add broth, baby kale, and any other vegetables you’d like. Warm this mixture over medium heat, just until the kale wilts (and any other vegetables are soft). Taste and adjust for salt. Serve topped with garnishes like sprouts, avocado, grated cheese, or on its own.

http://foodloveswriting.com/2014/03/26/how-to-make-perpetual-beef-bone-broth-pot-roasty-kale-onion-soup/
Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Lan | morestomach

    You can also reduce it down further, and if you need to, add gelatin to make bouillon cubes. Saves space in freezer. It’s been such a time saver to throw into dishes that require some flavor or when I want to make a quick soup.

  2. Kathryn

    No way! I love the idea of having a pot of stock bubbling away at all times, full of nourishment and goodness. I’ve not come across this idea before but it’s absolutely wonderful.

  3. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Shanna, it’ll be thanks to you that sometime this autumn/winter, I’ll be having a perpetual pot of bone broth simmering on my stove. I can imagine coming home from the chilly outside to the welcoming smell of homemade goodness, one especially rich in all the minerals that are good for us!!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I wish I knew the secret to why one of our pots was light and one was dark… I know when you roast the bones, the broth tends to be darker, but we didn’t roast them this time. I wonder if it just depends on the bones and the time or something?

  4. Pingback: Red Fruit Custard Cake | Food Loves Writing / Real Food Recipes

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