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Immune Tonic Soup – Herbal Bone Broth

Making this recipe is an all-day affair, so start early in the morning on a day when you plan on staying home for the entire day. This recipe should yield enough broth for a small family to have on-hand for a few months to all year, depending on how often it is consumed.

This recipe is from my herbal medicine making immersion at Chestnut School of Herbalism. I used wild harvested Maitake (Hen of the Wood) mushrooms that I dried myself, however, you can use store bought mushrooms just as easily. Mushrooms are VERY SIMPLE to dry.

For the herbs required, you can usually find them in any good apothecary, your Co-op (Hendersonville Community Co-Op) or healthy food store. You can also order them online. Be sure you use organic herbs that you know come from a reputable source that are sustainably harvested.

You’ll want to keep this broth on hand in the freezer at all times, but especially during the fall/winter months, as it helps to keep the immune system in tiptop shape.

The astragalus, calendula, and maitake and shiitake mushrooms are all traditional foods for bolstering the immune system. They are immune tonics (deep and sustaining) that can be taken on a daily basis. As a traditional blood cleanser and lymphatic tonic, calendula helps to augment our native immunity by supporting the eliminative and immune channels of our body.

This broth is also high in minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron (made readily available by the inclusion of seaweed and nettles). The addition of the apple cider vinegar helps to draw out these rich minerals our bodies need.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients for the Herbal Broth:

  • 60 grams (2.1 ounces by weight) dried maitake (Grifola frondosa) – About 3.5 cups (840 ml) of the dried mushroom in large pieces
  • 70 grams (2.5 ounces by weight) dried astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) – About ½ cup (120 ml) of the dried cut and sifted root
  • 70 grams (2.5 ounces by weight) dried nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) – About 2.5 cups (600 ml), by volume, of nettles, cut and sifted
  • 90 grams (3.2 ounces by weight) dried shiitake (Lentinula edodes) – About 3 cups (720 ml) of whole dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 10 grams (.35 ounces by weight) dried calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis– whole flower preferable medicinally to “petals”) – About 1 cup (240 ml) of the dried flowers
  • 1½ cups (360 ml) dried seaweed (bull kelp or wakame  don’t have much of a “fishy” flavor and are high in minerals. Note that seaweed bioaccumulates heavy metals, therefore it is imperative that your seaweed comes from healthy waters.)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 gallons and one quart of water (288 fluid ounces {8.6 liters}), divided
  • 1 cup (240 ml) apple cider vinegar

Note: All the ingredients in this recipe are appropriate for children and adults. However, pregnant women should leave out the calendula,  as it has been used by herbalists, traditionally, to bring on menses.

Note: The recipe gives weight (scale) and volume (measuring cup) proportions for many of the ingredients. The weight proportions will be more accurate than the volume, but I listed the volume ratios for those of you who do not have a scale. Because dried mushrooms vary in how they are dried (which will affect their volume measurements), we list the more accurate weight measurements first.

Making the Herbal Broth:

Blend the onion, celery, maitake and shiitake mushrooms in a food processor (preferred) or blender, by measuring out a portion of the total water needed (listed above). Depending on the size of your appliances, you will probably need to blend several batches.

Add the mushroom/vegetable slurry to a large pot (4 gallons) or two medium sized pots if you don’t own a large pot. Add the astragalus, calendula, vinegar, nettles and seaweed and the remainder of the water to the slurry. Simmer covered for 5 hours. Strain into another large pot, and press out the herbs when they’ve cooled enough to handle. Simmer the strained broth uncovered for one hour to concentrate.

Making Bone Broth:

There are so many recipes for making bone broth out there! I’ve shared my favorite recipe as well as my go-to, store-bought, bone broth for those days I simply don’t have time to make my own. But you basically want to be sure you are using about a gallon of water to 4 lbs of bones (plus about a cup of apple cider vinegar to leach the minerals from the bones). You’ll simmer the bone broth for about 5 hours, covered. If you use store-bought, you want the yield to be about 3/4th’s of a gallon when it’s all said and done.

Putting It All Together:

Mix the Herbal Broth and the Bone Broth together and let cool at room temperature. Save some for use, immediately, and place the rest in ice cube trays or small containers to freeze.

You can use this concentrated mixture in soups, stews, marinaras & whatever you can think of! You can also just sip it straight. The recommended dosage is adding 4 ounces (120 ml) of stock per serving of a meal (about 4 standard ice cubes).

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