Bone broth bone broth bone broth… Sick of hearing about it already?
Thought you knew all there is to know about bone broth? Starting to think it could be a diet fad to rival green smoothies? Should kale and quinoa get nervous?
Things may be blowing up in the media and people might be touting all sorts of claims, but really, bone broth is a very normal part of diets across the globe. This nourishing elixir is especially present in cultures where they need to utilise as much as they can from their produce and livestock in an effort to have enough food to nourish and strengthen the tribe.
Not only that, it’s easy to make, nutrient dense, easily absorbed by the body, warming and welcome in the colder months, and suitable for all ages.
More specifically, adding medicinals to your soup stock is ancient grandmother’s medicine in China. The synergistic effect of combining both food and medicine in Chinese culture has been understood and utilised for a long time.
What is Bone Broth?
Quite simply, a bone broth is a stock made from simmering animal bones. They are usually cooked in water long and slow for many hours. This allows the marrow and nutrients from the bones to seep into the water, which is then drunk like soup or used in other cooking so that the body absorbs these wonderful nutrients.
Bone Broth and Chinese Herbs
If you’re looking for recipes to make a great stock or broth, there are plenty out there for you to google to find one that suits you.
What I’m not hearing much about and what can really take your broth to the next level are some common Chinese medicinal herbs for soup that can really boost the health-enhancing qualities of your broth or stock.
As you start to utilise food as medicine, you can find recipes to target particular aspects of health. Books like Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford or Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon are amazing resources in the field.
If you shop in areas of high asian population, such as China Town or Victoria St, Richmond in Melbourne, you may start to see some little bags of goodies (aka a bag of herbs ready to pop in your cooking) showing up in the grocery stores and the herbalists, such as these pictured underneath.
I urge you to step inside and ask the staff about them and how to use them as they can offer some helpful information and occasionally family recipes.
Recommended Chinese Herbs for Broths, Stocks and Soups
So what are the best herbs for bone broth, stocks and soups?
There are some common herbs/foods such as:
- RED / BLACK DATES (Da Zao) These sweet dates are packed full of vitamins and have anti-cancer properties. They help ‘build blood’.
- GOJI BERRIES (Go Qi Zi) A long-time staple of the Chinese kitchen. Great for eye and liver health, rich in anti-oxidants, improve circulation and ‘build blood’.
- FRESH GINGER (Sheng Jiang) Assists in regulating the immune system, benefits the digestion and warms the body.
- GUI ZHI (Cinnamon Twig) It helps stabilise the immune system when attacked by a pathogen , it’s great for pain and warms the body.
- HUANG QI (Astragalas) This herb is a powerhouse for ‘tonifying the Qi’. It helps with fatigue, strengthens the lungs, stops diarrhea and stabilises the immune system.
- DANG SHEN (Codonopis) Also known as the ‘poor man’s ginseng’, this herb is similar to Huang Qi in that it strengthens the lungs, helps cough, stops diarrhea and ‘tonifies the Qi’.
- DANG GUI (Angelica) This herb ‘builds blood’ and improves the circulation – really beneficial for womb stuff, stops pain, moves your bowels, heals trauma.
There are other herbs you can use also such as Chinese Yam, Ginseng, Lily Bulb, the above are just my personal favourites for their potency, flavour, availability and cost.
You may need to request some of these from a herbalist, or from me.
How to Use Chinese Herbs in Bone Broth
So once you’ve got them, how to use them?
You don’t need much. Generally your herbs will come mixed together at the right dosage for one large pot. If you don’t want to, you don’t need to use them all.
These herbs add flavour to your soup/broth. Just like any cooking, adjust them for your personal preference and taste.
Rinse your herbs before you cook them and add them once you have added your water to your broth.
Before serving, I recommend removing the herbs as they can be quite tough and chewy except for the berries, dates and ginger.
What do Chinese herbs taste like?
Adding dates and/or Goji berries will add sweetness – it’s best to use them conservatively so as to not overpower a savoury dish.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the spicy and warming taste of ginger or cinnamon.
Huang Qi, Dang Shen and Dang Gui are the ones that will probably be newish to many a palate and not all people will like them. Huang Qi is has a slightly sweet flavour, is a bit woody but quite mild in taste. Dang Shen is again quite mild and woody. Dang Gui is bitter, so some may not like its flavour, especially at first. It is also sweet and it’s best not to go to overboard with this one, especially first go.
What amount of Chinese herbs should I add?
Dosage is really dependent on your quantity. A general rule of thumb for one large pot would be:
- 2–3 dates
- 10–20 goji berries
- 3 slices of fresh ginger
- 2–3 pieces of Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica) – up to 10g
- 4–5 sticks of Dang Shen (Codonopis) – up to 10g
- 2–4 pieces of Huang Qi (Astragalas).
These are the main guns when it comes to medicinal broth, I however, love to add:
- 10–15 pieces of Gui Zhi, up to 10g (Cinnamon Twig) for flavour, warmth and its immune effect.
How often should I take bone broth?
1–2 times per month in the cooler/cold months is ideal. For women, having bone broth after a menstrual cycle is especially beneficial.
Just be careful if you have a flu/cold in full swing as these nourishing and strengthening herbs can sometimes ‘strengthen and nourish the pathogen’. Best to take it often when you are well as a preventative.
For Autumn/Winter, Cloud Gate Therapeutics is selling pre-made packs of the above herbs for you for $7 a pack. Please contact us if you require some.