Our grannies really knew their stuff.…those bubbling stock pots were not for nothing!
Modern science has shown us what grandmother already knew. As Sally Fallon (President of The Weston A Price Foundation) has explained: Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It also contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons– chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
A good stock congeals as it cools, due the presence of gelatin. The therapeutic use of gelatin goes back to the ancient Chinese and research in France up to the 1950s showed that it was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including: peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. Gelatin attracts and holds liquids, aiding digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.
Broth-based soup did more than please the taste buds: “Stock is a healthy, light, nourishing food” said Brillant-Savarin, “good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion.” And, Escoffier said: “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.”
To read more about the fabulous nutritional value stocks and broths, I highly recommend:
Well, here’s my warmly-spiced version of a traditional, time-honoured soup that will nourish, heal and make you smile:
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Garlic: 3 cloves
Butter: 1 tablespoon
Beef dripping: 1 tablespoon (or another of butter)
Ground cumin: 2 heaped teaspoons
Ground coriander: 2 heaped teaspoons
Ground cloves: 1/4 teaspoon
Paprika: 1 heaped teaspoon
72 hour beef stock*: 2 litres
200g red lentils **
Tomato purée: 2 tablespoons
Parsley stalks: handful
Fish sauce (nam pla): 1 teaspoon
Ground black pepper: 1.5 teaspoons
Sea salt: 1.5 teaspoons
WHAT TO DO:
1. Peel and very finely dice the carrots, onions and garlic, or blitz in a food processor for a few seconds until finely chopped.
2. Melt the butter and beef dripping in a large saucepan and add the chopped veg. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 of pepper, cover with a cartouche (see Techniques: Sweating Vegetables) and sweat over a low heat for 10 mins or so, until the veggies have softened.
3. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cloves and paprika and continue to sweat for a further 5 mins, then add the beef stock, drained lentils, tomato purée, parsley stalks and fish sauce. Stir everything well and bring up to the boil.
5. Reduce the heat, cover and gently simmer the soup for 25 mins, or until the lentils are very soft. Check for seasoning, adding the remainder of the salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup sit until it has cooled down a little.
6. For a smoother soup, blitz with a hand blender, or in a food processor, until you get a good thick consistency with some texture. If you prefer a textured, take out about half the solids and blitz them until you have a smooth purée, then return them to the rest of the soup and stir well.
7. To serve, re-heat the soup until piping hot and perhaps add a handful of home-made croutons (fried in a little beef dripping) and/or a swirl of thick, live home-made yoghurt (see post coming soon: “Was Miss Muffet on a health kick?”).
* Simmering the beef bones and vegetables for the full monty -72 hours – gives a tremendously rich, flavoursome broth (and will make the house smell delicious). However, an 8 -12 hour stock will also be very tasty!
** Red lentils are very nutritious, but (in common with all legumes and beans) contain indigestible phytates and other anti-nutrients They need to be rinsed well and soaked in water and two tablespoons of whey/cider vinegar/lemon juice for at least 8 hours (then rinsed again and drained) to neutralise these problematic substances and make the highly beneficial nutrients available.