Bone broth has been trending since New York chef Marco Canora from Hearth opened a window to sell the slow-simmered, collagen-rich stuff by the cup. Cynics cried foul, saying bone broth is nothing more than stock, but that's not true. It's stock finished with herbs and spices, and, for me, that meant a whole lot of fresh ginger when I caught the crud. Sipping it by the quart helped get me through the worst symptoms in record time, making me a big time bone broth believer.

edited bone broth prep
Photo by Leslie Kelly

Just 2 Ingredients

This homemade stock requires no recipe, just the basic instructions to add water to chicken bones and let simmer all day or overnight. For the leanest, cleanest bone broth, I used the bones from chicken breasts, at least four halves, and up to six, depending on the size of the cooker. Always, make that ALWAYS, start with cold water when making stock. It renders the flavor more gently and makes for a stock that's clear. I lightly salted the water before flipping the switch, and some cooks go one step beyond, adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to coax even more collagen from the bones.

The term bone broth has everything to do the collagen extracted from the bones, a substance said to have good-for-the-gut curative properties. Canora frequently credits it with helping to cure his gout. The longer the broth simmers, the most collagen that ends up in the soothing soup. I turned this super simple stock into full-on bone broth by adding six generous slices of ginger halfway through the cooking process because of its healing properties, to aid digestion and turn up the body's temp in a warming way.

The Big Finish

Most stocks must be chilled and the fat skimmed off the top before they're recipe ready, but this lower fat version can go from the slow cooker to the bowl without taking that step.

  1. Set a colander over a big bowl or kettle and lay a thin tea towel over the colander. The tea towel filters any of the gunk that might bubble up when making stock.
  2. Taste the finished bone broth and adjust seasonings. Feel free to experiment by adding your favorite spices, but go easy to start. Try one star anise, for instance, or a dash of curry powder.
  3. Serve.
edited finished bone broth
Photo by Leslie Kelly

Everybody's heard that chicken soup is like the edible version of penicillin, and there are so many variations from around the world that seem to echo that refrain from matzo ball to Greek avgolemono and fabulous pho ga, but I've never before been able to shorten the duration of a crummy cold by eating those. This curative exercise wouldn't have been possible without my new Hydro-flask, a thoughtful birthday gift from my sister that looks and works like a water bottle, but is more of a thermos. I brought a quart of gingery broth to work and sipped it throughout the day, whenever I felt a tickle in my throat. Drinking it from a mug with a slice of lemon floating on top works, too. Usually, I suffer for at least 10 days before getting rid of a stupid cold, but this time, I felt so much better in less than a week.

Now, I just need to stock up on that stock for the rest of the cold and flu season. Here's a good recipe to use as a foundation, adding or subtracting herbs and spice, depending on taste.