Growing up, I used to hate eating puchero or bone broth soup. I found it dull and boring, except for its slightly more special version as “sopa de picadillo”, which is with bits of jamon serrano, diced hard-boiled eggs, rice and maybe a tomato.
Later when we would go on the yearly El Rocio pilgrimage, for some odd reason, I loved a hot cup of “caldo” (broth) especially in the early mornings before eating breakfast. It was always chilly out as we started our journey each day around dawn and there was usually no time to eat a proper breakfast before the entire hermandad (brotherhood) would get the horses, mules and carriages ready for the camino (road). Caldo is something we have around all day during El Rocio pilgrimage, drinking a cup or glass at any time. It actually “does a body good” and as the Spaniards say is a “reconstituyente”, providing strength and adding needed protein, gelatin, salts and warmth.
Of course, back then I didn’t realise the goodness in each cup of puchero/caldo/bone broth as I do today. Now I not only appreciate it, but make it frequently to drink alone, use as the base for a soup or for the dough of Spanish croquetas. As soon as you eat a few spoonfuls, you start to feel the energy pumping into your body! 😉
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is simple. And you can alter it depending on the bones you have available or want to use. I particularly like using jamon serrano bones or pork bones with chicken meat and bones. It makes for a clear broth that is very tasty. But you can substitute for beef, lamb or a combination of all. It’s up to you. I also added two knobs of kelp seaweed to add iodine to the soup. It’s important to get enough iodine in our diets to ensure proper thyroid function. As we are using more and more sea salt or Himalayan rock salt in Paleo cooking, we are not always getting enough iodine as when we used iodized table salt.
Jamon serrano bones provide a special flavour; however, if you don’t have access to jamon serrano, you could try asking in a specialty shop if they’ll sell you the bones after the jamon is done. Or if you’re up to it, give a good jamon serrano a try, by buying the whole leg and eating it at home like Spaniards do!
A good brand to buy is 5J’s; it can be more expensive, but the quality has never disappointed us. It’s so deliciously balanced, almost sweet to the palate and melts in your mouth. Ahhh.. I think it’s time to buy another one again in Spain! 😉
Jamon Serrano can be made with the back legs (jamon) or front legs (paleta/paletilla) of white pigs or the Black Iberian pig, which is an endemic species from southern Spain and Portugal. The best jamon comes from the Black Iberian pigs, especially if it’s fed only acorns. I recommend giving this one a try!
The cooking times for puchero/bone broth can vary. I let mine simmer about 6 hours on the first day and then another 4 hours on the second day. You don’t need to do that; but if you do, you must keep adding water, as it evaporates, and adjust for salt. You can also make the broth in a few hours and use the same day. But the longer you simmer, the more intense flavour and the more nutrients you will get out of the bones and ingredients.
- 1-2 ham hock or large piece of jamon serrano bone with meat on it
- 3 chicken breasts or 4-5 pieces of chicken on the bone, whichever you have
- 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in halves
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
- juice of one lemon (optional)
- 3-4 carrots, cut into large chunks (no need to peel unless you want to eat them later)
- 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
- 2 knobs kelp
- sea salt, to taste
- filtered water
- For the egg drop soup:
- 1 beaten egg per person
- In a large pot, place all of the ingredients (except the egg) and add enough water to fill about 3/4 full.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a soft boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 hours, adding water as necessary.
- Also remember to skim the ugly fat that comes to the top every once in a while, for a clearer and nicer broth.
- You can freeze the broth in small containers to use at a later date or you can immediately drink it, use as a soup or base for another recipe.
- Here, I’ve eaten it as an egg drop soup with 1 minced, chicken breast, some carrot pieces and a beaten egg.
- For the egg drop:
- Bring some of the broth to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Beat the egg, and slow pour it into the boiling broth, while stirring with a fork to create the stringy appearance.