Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

2013024 - longevity soup final final 1Sometimes good cooking starts with space. Space in the weekend to experiment, to plan ahead, prepare and store. It requires mental space too. Some time away from to do-lists and social events to allow thoughts of nourishment and nurture to come to the fore. When cooking is approached from this space, it is more expansive and often more wholesome.¬† And in this case, it’s a lot more ugly.

Last weekend I made bone broth, a rich stock made by slow cooking bones and veggies for many hours until I had a cauldron of thick, gelatinous, boney soup. Sounds awful! But when strained, this stock is a deeply nourishing elixir that can be consumed as a simple, warming broth or used like any other stock as the base of a soup, to cook grains like quinoa, to braise vegetables or for gravy.

Longevity Soup (How to Cook Bone Broth)

The Chinese call it Longevity Soup because of the many nutrients it contains. A dash of vinegar and the long, slow cooking process extracts minerals like calcium and magnesium, collagen and marrow from the bones into the soup, making it easy for your body to digest. It’s said to be good for your immune system, arthritis, digestion and thyroid issues. It aids in combatting stress and inflammation, and is meant to be particularly good for women.

OK. So it’s good for you, but there are some warnings attached to this recipe. It turns out that cooking marrow out of bones is not a pretty process. And it smells. While it cooks, the air in your kitchen will take on a meaty, butcher-shop quality with an undertone of farm yard. An open window with a light breeze should be on the ingredients list.

But this is the ultimate simple provision. Cooking from scratch, storing quality ingredients for later meals and not letting any of the animal go to waste is good for the environment and it’s frugal. I picked up my bones for $1 when I asked the butcher at the local farmer’s market if he had any in his truck. Some butchers give them away for free. The assembly of ingredients is simple, but the cooking process is long. I used a slow cooker which worked really well, but a big pot on the stove would do just as well.

Longevity Soup (How to Cook Bone Broth)If I haven’t put you off completely, and you decide to give this a go, I promise you’ll be rewarded with a freezer full of rich, beautiful broth, ready to enhance many dishes, and maybe your health too.

You can read up on the health benefits of bone broth on Nourished Kitchen, or on Sarah Wilson’s blog, which is where I got this recipe from.

Longevity Soup (Bone Broth)


  • 2-3kg of bones (beef marrow is best as the marrow is full of nutrients, but take whatever the butcher will give you)
  • 3-4 litres of water (not hot)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried green or black peppercorns, crushed

Method – Extracting the goodness from the bones

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/350F and brown meaty bones in a roasting pan for 45-60 minutes. If you have bones without much meat, place them in a very large pot or large slow cooker with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour.

Add the browned bones and vegetables to the pot or slow cooker. Top up the water if necessary, but the liquid should sit at least one inch below the rim of the pot, as the volume expands when cooking.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.

Simmer for at least 12 hours on the stovetop or 8 hours in the slow cooker. The longer you cook it, the richer the stock will be.

Method – Turning a brown mess into a health-giving stock

Use tongs to remove bones (they will likely be soft and fall apart a bit). Strain the liquid into a large bowl and let cool in the fridge.

A thick layer of fat will sit on top of the stock once it is completely cool. Remove the fat with a spoon, making sure you get it all in order to keep the stock clear.

Divide the stock into containers to keep in the fridge for a few days, or freeze until you need it.

30 thoughts on “Longevity Soup (How to Make Bone Broth)

  1. Helefran says:

    The health benefits would appear to far out weigh the cooking time….a slow cooker sounds ideal. Fantastic – thanks for sharing.

  2. ejpeoples says:

    Reblogged this on ejpeoples's Blog and commented:
    This is making me hungry. I just ate.

  3. Saskia (1=2) says:

    This looks delicious. I love making stock but have yet to try it with marrow bones. Looks like Melbourne’s weather is about to turn, so it’s time for slow-cooking methinks!

    1. Amelia says:

      It only took one day of rain for me to whip mine out! Love slow cooking.

  4. annmahnet says:

    Does the finished product taste like it smells as it cooks? I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything for longer than three hours — bone broth is a fascinating project to consider!

    1. Amelia says:

      No! It tastes like beef stock and adds a lovely depth of flavour to soups.

  5. LC says:

    Upon reading this post, I had this primal desire to make some bone broth. Since I wasn’t sure if I would end up liking the taste, I cut the portions down to about 1/4 of what is suggested. I left the soup simmering all night in a slow-cooker, but this morning, it was still broth-like, not thick or “gelatinous” as described above (I used beef marrow bones). I decided to allow it to cook for awhile longer while I’m at work. Any reason why it wouldn’t thicken up?

    1. Amelia says:

      So glad you tried it! My broth was oily and the bones were soft at the end of cooking, and became jelly like once it cooled. If the bones are soft/broken down then that’s a sign that all the goodness has been extracted and its ready. The longer you cook it, the richer the stock will be. Good luck – please let me know how you go, I’m interested in the small batch approach.

      1. pam says:

        I too made the bone broth in a small batch. my slow cooker is 4 quarts. cooked on low for 8 hours. bones still solid. refrigerated the insides of the crockpot until the next day. but the crock back on for 8 more hours and it was perfect.

  6. lcwonder says:

    I just checked since coming home from work– the broth is oily as you describe but the bones are not soft or broken down, and I was sure to include apple cider vinegar. I think maybe the piece I used was a rather large, bone-dense one, so maybe that affects the broth’s consistency: bone to narrow ratio. I used a very small slow cooker and have been adding water to keep the bone submerged. Will update this evening!

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks for the update. Good luck!

    2. Amelia says:

      I just remembered that I took a photo when the cooking finished. Here’s what mine looked like before and after:

  7. I think some people just don’t realise the difference a good home made stock can be when used in cooking. Thankyou for sharing this!

    1. Amelia says:

      You’re welcome.

  8. Fi Hocking says:

    This is something I must try once the weather turns up here in Queensland. You’re blog is beautiful, mouthwatering photos, I sure will be coming back for more great recipes and pics. Thankyou x (another blog boss student)

    1. Amelia says:

      Hi Fi! Lovely to meet you, thanks for stopping by. I love your instagram vignettes – they are beautiful!

  9. I love your blog! I am a visual person so the format is very appealing to me!
    Best, Celia

  10. Great recipe. I grew up with a home grown,version of this. My mother used to make it. Sometimes with veal bones. It would become quite gelatinous when set. I have been thinking for a while that this would be an amazing addition in those soupy Shanghainese dumplings. Perhaps when the weather gets cooler I’ll try it.

    1. Amelia says:

      I *love* those soupy dumplings. It never even crossed my mind to try to make them at home! But this broth would definitely add big flavour.

      1. I always wondered how they put the soup into the dumplings. The secret is a gelatinous soup. Cubed and inserted into the dumpling. So this recipe is perfect. I bet when this soup cools its very gelatinous.It has to be with all those bones!

      2. Amelia says:

        Genius! Thanks so much for telling me. This broth is super gelatinous, perfect for it! Now I’m craving soup dumplings :)

      3. I’ll be watching to see if you get round to making and posting them.No pressure of course.

      4. Amelia says:

        Ha! Don’t hold your breath – fiddly food is not my forte!

  11. Gimp says:

    I don’t bother with the veggies. Just the bones and when it’s done JUST the broth. It’s medicine, it doesn’t need to taste good and in my opinion, it shouldnt

  12. Rachel says:

    I was wondering if you can use bones that have already been cooked? I frequently braise a rabbit in wild mushroom broth. The process takes about 3 hours before the meat starts to fall of the bones. I then strip the meat off the bones. Can I take those bones and turn them into this bone broth? Or do you need to start with fresh bones?

    1. Amelia says:

      Hi Rachel. Rabbit in wild mushroom broth sounds delicious! I think the goodness from the rabbit bones would have already seeped into the mushroom broth while cooking, so there wouldn’t be much left to give to another batch. However if you roasted the rabbit, you could use them.

  13. Laura Lechte says:

    Hi Amelia

    Just a question regarding getting the fat off the stock? How long does it take for the fat to thicken and congeal in the fridge? I have made a big batch and actually had a cup this morning although think it was all the fat!! It’s now in the fridge and hoping the fat will be easy to scrape off fat when it sets – how long for I am not sure?

    1. Amelia says:

      Hi Laura. I made a batch a few days ago and I left it in the fridge for about 4-5 hours for it to solidify on top. It depends on how much fat was on your bones. I only got a thin scraping this time, last time there was a thick layer. The stock does taste quite rich (ie. fatty) even after the fat layer is removed. I hope that helps!

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