By ANDREA SCHAFFER | Moonshine Ink

I looked forward to it for the entire 10-day weather forecast. A full day of rain! Temperatures in the 40s! In September, no less! Why was I so giddy? Besides the welcome rapid reduction in fire danger, what I really craved was SOUP. I am one of those fair-weather eaters that voraciously eats salad in warm weather, but once the temperatures fall below 50 degrees, soup is my mainstay. After a summer of salads every which way, soup was a welcome change.

While soup is most often a warm, comforting food, there are other health reasons why we crave it.

It contains myriad vegetables, making for a delicious way to consume an abundance of disease-fighting antioxidants. But in my book, soup is all about broth. The better the broth, the better the soup.

Why is broth so essential to health? A good broth contains a bounty of minerals. As it cooks, minerals from bones and vegetables are leeched out into the broth, helped by a splash of acidic apple cider vinegar, wine, or lemon juice to pull them out. Calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus are just a few of the minerals that can be found.

Bone broth also contains collagen which serves as the glue that holds our body together. It comprises roughly 30% of our body’s protein, making up a large component of our skin, tendons, joints, ligaments, internal organs, bones, cartilage, and more. Collagen can also help heal the gut when consumed regularly. Did I mention that broth helps maintain the elasticity of your skin? Two bowls for me, please!

Vegetarians and vegans, do not despair. You can also fortify your soups with a delicious and nutritious mineral broth that will make your tastebuds sing. With the addition of seaweed to a bath of onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and other veggies of your choice, you are adding valuable minerals to your soup.

If you aren’t ready to make your own broth and soup yet, check out the three Community Soup Nights this fall hosted by Slow Food Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Food Hub. Join in the celebration of cooler temperatures, great community and healthy SOUP!

SOUP’S ON: Homemade broth is easy to make and a great way to add extra nutrients to that bowl of soup you’re craving now that fall has arrived. myviewpoint/bigstockphoto.com

Bone Broth

Making broth is more of an art than a science. Choose from these potential ingredients and improvise — the combinations are infinite!

INGREDIENTS:

beef: marrow bones, knuckle bones, beef shanks, meaty ribs, soup bones, oxtail, foot, neck bones

pork: bones, neck bones, trotters, ham hock

lamb: neck bones, riblets

chicken: whole carcass, backs, necks, breast bones, wings, feet

vegetables/herbs/spices of your choice

sea salt

raw apple cider vinegar

Gather your desired ingredients. If you have meaty bones, you can sear them briefly in the oven at 400 degrees. Put all of your bones, meat, and vegetables in a large pot or slow cooker. Cover the contents with water, leaving a little bit of head space for when it boils. Add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a fistful of sea salt. Bring to a simmer (in a slow cooker, this can take a few hours on low), skimming off any scum that appears on the top in the initial phases of cooking. The key is low and slow. Broth is obtained in 6 to 24 hours, though it can be cooked for longer. Once it is done, strain into jars and store in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Sourcing Bones: Tahoe Food Hub, New Moon Natural Foods, Mountain Valley Meats, Hole-In-One Ranch, Bradley & Sons, Sinclair Family Farm (meat delivery once a month)

Vegetable Mineral Broth

INGREDIENTS:

2 yellow onions

2 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery

3 carrots, chopped

sweet potato or yam

½ pound green beans

1 bunch of greens of choice: kale, chard, mustard, or collards

1 bunch parsley

bay leaf

1 tsp peppercorns

3 large pieces of seaweed (kelp, kombu or wakame)

4 qts filtered water

sea salt to taste

Wash vegetables and chop roughly. Place all ingredients in a large stock pot with water (enough to cover all vegetables). Bring to a boil with the lid on, then uncover and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Once done, use in soup or strain into jars and store in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Celery Root Apple Soup

This is one of those delicious under-the-radar fall soups that I love. Creamy without cream, bright acidity from the apples, and a weird looking root vegetable to scare your children. Happy Halloween!

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil

1 medium onion, largely diced

1 large celery root or 2 small ones, roots and dirt cut off outside, largely diced

2 tart apples (Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Cortland, etc.)

2-3 qts broth of your choice (enough to cover vegetables)

sea salt and pepper to taste

Sauté diced onion in butter, ghee, or coconut oil in a large pot until translucent. Add diced celery root and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth and apples and simmer until celery root is fork tender. Turn off stove and transfer in small batches to a blender to emulsify (or blend with immersion blender directly in the pot). Return to pot if using a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it needs more acidity, add a splash of white wine, a squirt of lemon, or a touch of apple cider vinegar. Serve and enjoy!

~ Andrea Schaffer is a nutritional therapy practitioner helping her clients improve their health through food. She is also president of Slow Food Lake Tahoe, sharing her interest in food and nutrition to Truckee/North Lake Tahoe. For more information, go to notjustbroccoli.com or slowfoodlaketahoe.org.