Bone broth is a hot trend these days, but it’s also one of the oldest foods on the planet.
“Women have been throwing bones in pots since the beginning of time, because they didn’t want to waste anything,” said Rebecca Katz of San Rafael, a self-described “soup shaman” who has written five cookbooks on healthy eating, including her latest, “Clean Soups: Simple, Nourishing Recipes for Health and Vitality” (Ten Speed Press, 2016.)
As a child, Katz used to perch on the kitchen counter to watch her Nana make chicken soup (yes, the recipe is in the book.) Then, she was singled out in culinary school for her soup and risotto-making skills.
“Soup has always been in my wheelhouse,” Katz said matter-of-factly in a phone interview. “It’s something that comes naturally to me.”
Her soup secrets — start with a great stock, understand the common elements in each soup and how they come together, taste as you go, and don’t forget to garnish — are simple but can elevate a simple broth from thin and watery to vibrant and complex.
In addition to being healthy, soup is also fun to make, whether you’ve just gone to the farmers market or are trying to clean out the fridge. And people always love it, especially with some crusty bread for dipping.
“Soup making is one of the most forgiving of all the culinary techniques, the most creative, and the most alchemical for health,” she said. “Whether you are vegan or Paleo or gluten-free or a French cuisine devotee, soup is the universal language. Period. End of story. You can never go wrong.”
In January, when you want to shed a few extra pounds while staying warm, slurping some flavorful, nutrient-dense soups on a regular basis can nourish your body in a deeply satisfying way.
“Any time you are drinking a nice warm liquid, you are hydrating your body, and it’s almost like that liquid elixir is stopping along the way to talk to every one of those cells,” she said. “So soups are a great way to keep yourself hydrated, which is a big thing for firing the circuits in the brain.”
At the heart of Katz’s soup savvy is her Magic Mineral Broth, the mother recipe that she developed over time, then riffed off several variations that incorporate other ingredients, such as chicken bones or coconut milk.
“It is the basis of all my soups … the fulcrum of the wheel,” she said of the broth. “It became a thing … and now it has this cult following.”
The Magic Mineral Broth — also known as MMB or simply The Broth — was born back in 2001, before folks knew how to make healthy food actually taste good, Katz said.
While teaching a cooking class, she came across a recipe for a healthy Potassium Broth. But after she looked at it, she knew it was going to taste bitter. So she started to perfect it with her culinary sorcery.
“I threw in sweet potatoes and garlic, and some kombu and a bay leaf,” she said. “I wanted some aromatics, so I added allspice berries and peppercorns, and loaded it up with garlic and leeks.”