There really is nothing better than curling up with a warm cup of homemade soup on a frigid winter day. Soup is so much easier to make at home than I ever dreamed, especially with whole, homegrown ingredients. Making your own beef broth is one way to take your homemade soup to another level. Don't get me wrong- store bought broth is super easy and fairly inexpensive, but there is just something wonderful about being able to use your own homemade broth for soups, stews, pot roasts and more.
What You'll Need
4+ lbs of beef soup bones
vinegar, red wine or tomato juice for acidity
salt and pepper
The most important part of your broth are the beef bones. Beef bones can vary a little bit depending on where you buy them. Beef soup bones purchased at most grocery stores are usually packaged really nicely and have quite a bit of hearty meat on them. You can also go to a local butcher or meat store to find beef bones, and they are usually packaged in bulk, are inexpensive, and have quite a bit of fat and cartilage still attached. You will have more fat in the broth made using these bones, but it can be removed from the broth once it has cooled and solidified. Cypress Grove Farm Store often has both types of bones in stock (call for availability), and both types of bones work great for making homemade broth.
Making the Broth
Preheat your oven to 425F. Set your bones on a greased cooking sheet and bake for 20-35 mins, or meat has browned.
Meanwhile, start chopping your veggies. Cut your onions into wedges and coarsely chop the carrots, celery and mushrooms. Place them all in the slow cooker and add your herbs. I used dried herbs since it's winter, but fresh herbs are even better if you have them available. What herbs should you use? That's up to you! I love using thyme and sage, and you can see I also threw in a couple small bay leaves. Once you've finished adding your herbs, add some salt and pepper. The broth will concentrate over time, so be careful not to add too much salt or you will be sorry in the end.
Now 20 or 30 minutes have passed and your stomach should be rumbling from the smell of roasting beef in the oven. Once your beef bones are ready, remove them from the oven and transfer them to the crock pot. You can set them on top of your veggies and herbs, or have the bones on the bottom. The broth will cook so long that it doesn't really matter which goes on top.
Now just for the finishing touches. Add 1/2 cup of red wine, vinegar or tomato juice to your slow cooker. This acidic ingredient is not entirely necessary, but does help with the cooking process. Then add enough water to completely cover your vegetables and soup bones. Put on your lid and let that baby simmer on low heat for 10-24 hours. If you are in a hurry and need to make your broth a little quicker, you can fast track the process by doing this in a Dutch oven on the stove. A faster cook time simply means less flavor and nutrients will be brought out of your bones and into the broth.
Homemade beef broth! I started this batch around noon on a Sunday and turned the slow cooker off Monday morning before I headed off to work. The smell of your broth will fill the house and trust me, you will be dreaming about food all night long. To separate your broth from your meat, bones and veggies you will need to use a strainer. You can also use a cheese cloth to filter out any crushed herbs you may have used, but it's not necessary as long as you don't mind them being in your finished broth. You will need to use your fresh broth within a week. If, like me, you made a larger batch, you can freeze it for later. Just be sure to leave about an inch of head space in your jar so the broth has room to expand as it freezes.