Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Chinese Bone Soups for Healing

There is a new trend in NYC that I wish would spread to other cities. People are lining up to order Bone Broth in a take away cup instead of coffee or tea. It's not a new idea to drink bone broth, it is however new to make it a fast food as making bone broth actually takes a very long time to make!  And the Chinese never mixed different kinds of bones. Instead, they served one kind of bone soup at a time and for different reasons.  

I grew up drinking various bone soups to enhance my immune system, strengthen my small bones and to give me energy and I continue this practice as an adult. Bones contain many minerals that support the kidneys and help them retain the fluids that we need.  I recommend soup to almost everyone when I teach.

As a child, I was often overtired and had big dark circles. My grandfather was always concerned about my health and pushed me to eat more soup. Actually, he pushed soup towards me at almost every meal! I also had little bones and he wanted to be sure that I had enough calcium since I didn't drink milk, so he would make me three different kinds of bone soups made from Pork Bones, Chicken Bones and Beef Bones. These soups were designed to be drunk from a mug, like a cup of tea and were the base broths for many other soups, but for me, they were all about love and healing.  

Chicken broth is something I had every time I got sick as a child, which was often and has been shown to relieve congestion and tames the inflammation of the mucus membranes of the throat. When I had my first baby, my mother made pots and pots of chicken soup - made with black chickens. I drank so much that my son smelled like chicken broth! But, I've since learned that it was not just helping me recover from a difficult childbirth experience, it was also bringing in more milk. 

When my son broke his leg playing soccer, I reverted to making soup as the way to get him to heal fast. I made these three bone soups in succession over the course of three weeks.  I also fed him lots of Korean Seaweed.  At his checkup three weeks later, his doctor was amazed at how well his bones had healed. He asked me what I had done and I had to admit that I had fed him lots of bone soup and seaweed.  His break looked like he had been healing for 4 months!  

Since then, whenever I have a friend or client with a broken bone or a diagnosis of Osteoporosis or is just plain tired, I recommend these three Bone Soups in this order: one week of Pork Bone Soup, one week of Chicken Bone Soup and one week of Beef Bone Soup. The secret to these Soups is to add a small amount of acid - vinegar or acid in some of the vegetables - to get more of the minerals out of the bones or cook with lots of root vegetables that add even more minerals. For the Beef Bone Soup, make sure that you get bones with marrow in them as that is the most important part of the bone for that soup and if you want to help someone with tendon problems, use beef shanks or oxtails.

For those of you who don't eat Pork, you can skip that Bone Soup and move on to the Chicken and Beef Soups, but then I would eat more Seaweed. And, for the Vegetarians out there, I will post a Vegetarian version soon. If you want, you can also mix your bones together, but the Chinese wouldn't do that. They might mix Pork and Chicken but not Pork and Beef or Chicken and Beef, but it's up to you.

These are soups designated for healing and not for a main dish soup. But they do make  excellent soup bases too if you should like to use them that way. And, these are not soups where you keep the meat or vegetables that are cooked. You have to cook them long enough that there's no flavor left in the meat or vegetables to make rich, nutrient dense soups that will make your kidneys and bones happy!

Pork Bone Soup

1 pound of Pork Bones (preferably Neck Bones)
Enough Water to Just Cover the Pork Bones
EnoughWater to Cook the Pork Bone Soup
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Salt

Optional:  2 cups of Soybean Sprouts

Place Pork Bones in a soup pot and add water to jut cover the bones. Bring to a boil and turn off when the scum rises to the surface. Throw out all of the water and then refill the pot so that there is about 4 inches of water covering the bones.  Add vinegar and salt and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer on low for 3 hours or more. Cool and strain broth. If desired, reheat and cook Soybean Sprouts in the soup for about 15 minutes before serving. Otherwise, reheat one cup at a time to boiling and serve in a mug. Season with additional sea salt if desired.

Chicken Bone Soup

1 pound of Chicken Drumsticks
1 large yellow onion, stem ends removed and cut into chunks (can leave peel on)
1 Celery Root, washed and cut into chunks
2 large carrots, washed, stem and end removed and cut into chunks
2 - 3 Parsnips, washed, stem and end removed and cut into chunks
2 large Celery Stalks, washed and cut into chunks
1 - 2 Turnips, washed, stem and ends removed and cut into chunks
2 - 3 teaspoons of salt
10 - 12 cups of Water

In a large soup pot, put in chicken thighs and all the root vegetables. Cover with water up to 4 to 5 inches above the chicken. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Taste and add salt. Strain broth and serve individual portions reheated and poured into a mug. Season with additional sea salt if desired.

Beef Bone Soup

4 - 5 pound Beef leg bones, 
1 large Onion, stems removed and cut into chunks (leave skin on)
2 large Carrots, washed, stem and end removed and cut into chunks
2 - 3 stalks of Celery, cut up
3 Large Tomatoes cut up
12 cups of Water
3 teaspoons Salt
1 Bay Leaf
Handful of Parsley

Put beef bones in a large soup pot and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil until the foam rises. Drain water and rinse the bones. Put back into the pot with the water, vegetables, Parsley and Bay Leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Skim additional foam as it rises. Cook for 3 hours. Cool and scrape out the marrow if possible and add back into the soup. Strain and refrigerate.  When ready to serve, heat up one cup at a time and serve in a mug and season with additional sea salt if desired. 

Five Element Analysis

Soups, and especially broths are a Water Element food. But, each soup is made with  a different kind of bone. Pork Bones belong to the Water Element, Chicken Bones to the Wood Element and Beef Bones to the Earth Element. The Soybean Sprouts contribute the Wood Element to the Pork Bone Soup and the Celery adds more of the Wood Element to the Chicken Soup.  However, the Celery Root is an Earth Element vegetable as are the Carrots, Parsnips and Turnips in the Chicken Soup. Onions add the Metal Element to the Chicken and Beef Soups and the Parsley and Bay Leaf add even more Metal to the Beef Soup. Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element to the Beef Soup. The Pork Soup is for tonifying (nourishing) the kidneys. The Chicken Soup starts adding essential nutrients and supports the Liver and Stomach.  The Beef Soup is for enhancing the blood and energy.


  1. Great Article. I would like to share this with my clients in my acupuncture practice...with your permission, of course. Say the word and I will spread the word.

  2. You are more than welcome to share!

  3. I do not eat pork. What would you suggest as alternative? Thank you so much.

  4. Go with the Chicken or Beef Bone Soup instead and also the Vegetable one. Any soup full of minerals is good for the bones!

  5. In your article, Korean seaweed has been mentioned. Can you elaborate further on that? How do you prepare? In soups? Thank you.