24 February 2015
In the winter, I always have some stock simmering on the stove. There’s something so comforting about that the delightful aroma and the simple, flavorful goodness of a hearty broth. It’s such a primal pleasure during these cold, cloistered months. It’s almost magical. My son came down the stairs one chilly morning recently, noted that I had three pots of stock going at once—chicken, beef and fish—and exclaimed, “Great! Let’s make some potato leek soup!”
Anything that can motivate a teen-aged boy to help chop vegetables has some serious mojo, indeed.
Stock is an ancient tradition. It’s in the bones. Renowned nutritionist Weston Price noted that all ancient cultures used animal bones—and the nutrient-rich marrow gelatin that they provide—usually, in the form of stock. The gelatin is the basis of the old-time home remedy of chicken soup. Good for what ails you, it’s deeply nourishing, easily digested by those who have gastric issues and, research has shown, beneficial in the treatment of myriad diseases.
The long simmering process (especially when you add a dash of vinegar to acidify the mixture) releases minerals: calcium, magnesium and other micro-nutrients that make up the matrix that helps to build and support our bones. These minerals are also essential for the nervous, hormonal and immune systems. But there’s more.
Stock is also the basis of gourmet cooking; it’s used to enhance everything from sauces to mashed potatoes to sautéed greens. It makes food taste good. And the gelatin is known for its magical medicinal properties. I’ve also recently re-discovered fish stock which, when made with fish heads, can also benefit the thyroid. What a bonus!
Yet another reason I initially started to use bones for stock—soon after I transitioned from vegetarianism to eating meat from local organic farms--is that it feels respectful to the animals that are nourishing us; it feels more honoring to them not to waste any part of their gift. So I fill a large pot with water, add the bones, some coarsely chopped carrots, onions and onion skins and a handful of parsley and simmer it all on a very low flame for at least 12 hours. Sometimes longer…a day or two even. You’ll want to skim the froth from the top of the stock from time to time and let the flavors really develop.
After straining, I usually put several quarts of broth into yogurt containers and pop them into the freezer for later. Then I set about to make some soup. It’s so satisfying for the tummy and for the spirit…a visceral blessing on these raw, blustery days. The potato leek soup recipe from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions is a particular favorite in our house, served hot or cold. Yummy and easy to prepare, it can even inspire an adolescent to participate in cooking. What could more delicious than that?
Potato Leek Soup
from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
3 leeks, peeled, cleaned and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups bone broth or chicken stock
thyme--loose herb, or several springs, tied together
1 cup cream (heavy, piima or creme fraiche)
sea salt and pepper
finely chopped chives for garnish
Saute leeks until soft in butter and olive oil. Add potatoes and stock, bring to a boil and skim. Add thyme and simmer until all vegetables are soft. Let cool. Remove thyme. Puree soup with a handheld blender. Add cream and blend until frothy. Season to taste. Serve warm or chilled and garnish with chives.