For Epicurious, by Anna Stockwell.
Earlier this winter my mom helped nurse me through a bout of pneumonia. She made a big batch of chicken and beef bone broth for us, then heated it up every night with something different stirred into it. One night it was white beans, kale, and chicken topped off with a flurry of freshly grated Parm, the next night it was rice noodles with lots of fresh ginger and garlic grated into the broth. The beauty of these soups — besides the obvious soothing and healing benefits — was how quick and easy they were to throw together every night.
The beauty of these soups — besides the obvious soothing and healing benefits — was how quick and easy they were to throw together every night.
The key to a delicious, almost-instant bone broth soup is high-quality bone broth that already tastes good on its own. You can make it at home (we’ve got a great recipe) or you can buy it — my favorite local butcher makes amazing bone broths I often buy instead of making my own. A big jar of broth will keep in your fridge for about a week — enough time to turn it into lots of different soups.
The single carrot you have left in your crisper drawer and that last little bit of leftover roast chicken can be turned into a gorgeous bowl of healing soup if you have some bone broth on hand. Heat up just as much broth as you need for however many servings of soup you want to make, then toss in some veggies, or beans, or pasta and cook until they’re done — how long that takes will of course depend on what you add. Or start by cooking some meat or veggies in your pot and then covering them with bone broth. Season the broth with garlic or ginger or herbs or spices as you go, then stir in a handful of leafy greens or leftover cooked meat right before serving — just to wilt it or warm it through.
The possibilities are endless and up to you, but here are 10 of my favorite variations to get you started:
1. Heat broth with canned diced tomatoes and their juices, canned white beans, pressed or minced garlic, and some de-stemmed and torn kale, then serve it topped with grated Parmesan.
2. Heat broth, then add shredded cooked chicken, spinach, and halved cherry tomatoes. Swirl in a spoonful of pesto and serve.
3. Heat broth with cubed tofu, baby bok choy, and lots of grated fresh ginger, then stir in some white miso and top with scallions.
4. Heat broth with cooked chorizo (if you’re starting with fresh, cook it in the pot and then pour the broth over it), and cubed sweet potatoes (if you have leftover cooked sweet potatoes this soup will go much faster!), and then stir in sliced kale and heat gently until wilted. Top with cilantro.
5. Cook tortellini in hot broth, then stir in baby spinach and/or frozen peas and top with Parmesan if desired.
6. Sauté thinly sliced celery, carrots, and garlic briefly in olive oil, then add broth and red chile flakes. Add a little cooked chicken if you want, then top with parsley, and maybe a swirl of high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
7. Cook rice noodles in broth with lots of ****grated ginger and grated garlic, then top with sliced chiles, mung bean sprouts, lime juice, cilantro, and maybe a bit of hot sauce. You can even add some thinly sliced medium-rare steak, if you like.
8. Fry up a little spicy Italian sausage in a pot with chopped garlic, then top with broth, chopped escarole and white beans. Parmesan and/or parsley on top never hurts here.
9. Quickly sauté sliced mushrooms and onions, add a splash of white wine, then pour in broth and heat with fresh thyme springs and cooked wild rice. You can also add cooked chicken to this one too if you'd like.
10. Fry some sliced bacon, pour off the extra fat, then add chopped garlic, canned diced tomatoes, canned chickpeas, and a pinch of paprika (or better yet, harissa paste), and heat with broth. Stir in a handful of spinach or kale leaves before serving.
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