If you’re shivering, you can put a thick woolly jumper on or… Make yourself some broth. And if you’re ill, struck down by a seasonal virus or passing bug, get some broth down you and it’s off to bed!
What is broth?
Broth is a simple yet rich stock. It’s water in which you cook the following, at very low heat, for a very long time: a chicken carcass, a few chopped vegetables (carrot, leek and celery), an onion studded with cloves, garlic, parsley, perhaps some thyme and a bay leaf, to which you add a glug of cider vinegar a good way through the cooking time. The broth will turn a nice golden colour over several hours. Once it has done so, most importantly, sieve it so as to only serve the liquid. The aim being to supply your body with a beverage that doesn’t take the effort required to digest solids.
In the view of naturopath Marielle Alix, broth is the perfect remedy for a virus, a chill or even an energy slump. “If the body is ill, and feverish, you should allow the fever to do its job”, she explains. “Because fever burns everything up, and is the body’s way of fighting the infection. So broth is a great aid for expunging it gently. Because it’s not the time to feed the body foods that are too rich, but conversely to give it a rest, without giving it any extra work. Hence you should consume broths, as well as taking three days’ rest”, concludes the naturopath.
A host of benefits
The principle of slow cooking allows the bones to release their nutrients, not least calcium, phosphorous, collagen, magnesium and sodium. And these are the very nutrients that restore good health to the most exhausted of bodies in no time. This applies whether the body is exhausted by a virus or dehydrated by a stomach upset (or, in midsummer, sunstroke). Broth is so remineralising and invigorating that ideally, you should drink it once a week. This is for the sake of good bone health, joint health (thanks to the collagen found in the bones used for the broth) and cardiovascular health. This is thanks to the antioxidants contained in the marrow of the poultry or beef bones, which can also be used as a change from the flavour of chicken broth. Be sure to always add that glug of cider vinegar, which allows the bones to release minerals and promote the collagen’s transfer into the cooking liquid.
Do vegetarians have to go without broth?
In Marielle Alix’s view, there’s a delectable alternative to poultry broth: vegetable broth. While it doesn’t contain collagen, it is high in all the minerals and vitamins contained in the variety of vegetables used to make it. “It’s up to you to come up with various combinations. As well as the standard fare of leek- onion-carrot, slip in some cabbage, fennel, tomatoes, aubergine and ginger!” advises the naturopath. Whether the broth is vegetarian or not, it must be consumed soon after having been made (within two days, three at the most). But the good news is that you can freeze it, as long you’ve only used fresh ingredients to make it. A clever tip? Fill ice cube trays with broth so that you always have your homemade broth cubes to hand, instead of resorting to a “stock cube”!
- 2 litres of water
- A chicken carcass with a little meat still on it
Otherwise, the bones from a side of beef, or a few chicken thighs and wings. If you want a more oily, nourishing result, ask your butcher for two or three marrowbones.
- 1 leek
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion studded with a clove
- Salt (towards the end of the cooking time)
- A glug of cider vinegar
Place the bones and vegetables in the saucepan or crock pot (which we’re not using as a pressure cooker here, but just for simmering).
Cover it all with water.
Heat very gently for several hours (go ahead and leave it to cook for five or six hours) without ever letting it come to the boil. Broth should not boil, contrary to popular belief!
Remove the vegetables and meat and sieve it all to leave only the stock behind.
Set the vegetables aside to eat later, after the broth diet, once you have got your appetite and energy back and are able to have your body do some work again in terms of digestion.