Introducing our new food column by Nicky Cahill

IMG_4499.JPGNicky is a local food writer and every month she will be writing a monthly column especially for Belfast Times.

Nicky lives mainly in her kitchen or that of friends, and can in most instances be found making dinner or breakfast.  She has worked for the BBC, RTE, Channel 4, UTV, Discovery, and National Geographic, making factual, news entertainment, lifestyle and of course, cookery television.  You can hear her regularly on BBC Radio Ulster Thought for the Day.

Nicky blogs at Salt and Sparkle about food, grace, travel and creativity.

Over to you Nicky…

The latest food trend is something your Granny used to make every week with a piece of beef shin, some soup celery and a carrot or two. Only now its called Bone Broth and hailed as the latest miracle food. Health seekers and fashionistas are sipping it as a drink from paper cups.

Broth. Yes broth, the stuff eaten for centuries on the island of Ireland, is now slap bang and centre in the middle of the latest global food trend. And it is delicious, without being virtuous, and really good for you.

Bone broths are healing and soothing to both body and soul. Containing minerals and nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and calcium, to amino acids, collagen, hyaluronic acid, and glycosamino glycans as well as phosphorus and other trace minerals which nourish the skin cells, calm inflammation in the body, and suppress acne.

Throughout human history across the globe humans have made broths using animal bones to make a nutritive broth. People throughout the world today still consume broth regularly as a cheap and highly nutrient dense food.

In Northern Ireland bone broth is traditionally made by simmering a piece of beef shin or a chicken carcass with chopped soup celery, carrots, onion, celery, leeks, parsley and soup mix (dried pearl barely, split red lentils, green and yellow split peas) and in water over a low flame for up to three hours, or slightly longer. The broth is then served straight from the pot with the vegetables, barley, and meat.

My latest recipe for bone broth started its life after my Vietnamese sister in law’s Mother taught me how to make a ginger soup, that is fed to people after they have had babies or internal surgeries. My recipe creates a soup that is rejuvenating with healing powers for both body and soul.

When the broths water is made slightly acidic by the inclusion of cider vinegar more minerals and other nutrients leach from the bones into the broth, creating a more nutrient dense broth. My recipe can be made with either beef, lamb, or chicken.

As flavourful as they are versatile bone broths are one of my favourite recipes because the liquid can be used the as the base for so many things soup, risottos, Indian dals, gravies, stews, sauces and as a medium for cooking vegetables and grains. This month I am sharing with you my recipe for Bone Broth, and how I then use the broth as the base of a vegetable packed chicken noodle soup.

Bone Broth


• 9 chicken free range uncooked drumsticks or thighs – you can use a whole chicken, chicken wings, or a chicken carcass or a combination, or to make with beef 2 pounds of beef shin meat and bone
• 8 large pieces of ginger peeled and smashed
• 1 large bulb of garlic peeled and smashed
• 4 carrots peeled and sliced
• 1 onion peeled and sliced
• 3 sticks of celery sliced
• 1 packet of pre cut soup vegetables
• 7-9 pints of water
• 1 red chilli
• 1 teaspoon
• 12 black peppercorns
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• Water to cover plus more as the broth simmers


1. In a large pan boil two pints of cold water, when bubbling ferociously add the smashed ginger
2. Leave on a rolling boil for 10 minutes, add the garlic boil for another couple of minutes, then add the cider vinegar
3. Add all the other ingredients pour cold water onto them until they are just covered, leaving about an inch between the liquid and the top of the pan, cover the pan with a lid and bring to the boil for 10 minutes
4. Remove the lid and simmer gently for anything between 4 – 8 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming any scum off the surface of the simmering broth as it cooks
5. As the broth simmers some liquid will evaporate, add more water throughout cooking and continue to simmer, the longer this broth can be simmered the better. I sometimes leave it over night in the bottom oven of my Aga or in make it in a slow cooker. (to make in a slow cooker half the recipe)
6. Strain the vegetables and bones out of the broth, take any meat off the bones and set aside then throw away the cooked vegetables and bones.
7. The bone broth can be served as it is or used as a base for other soups.
8. This broth will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and will freeze for up to three months.

I keep litre containers of this broth in the freezer at all times, as it makes an instant base for my chicken noodle soup. This noodle soup is all about being prepared in advance, because once you start cooking it is ready in less than five minutes. If you don’t have time to prep all these vegetables buy a packet of pre cut stir fry mix, or simply serve the broth with broccoli florets, the variations on the vegetables to use for this noodle soup are limitless.

Chicken Noodle Soup using Chicken Bone Broth serves four

• 4 pints of chicken bone brothIMG_4501.JPG
• 5 cloves of garlic finely sliced
• 1 inch knob of ginger grated
• 1 stem of lemongrass smashed
• 2 red chillis – one finely sliced, one kept whole with slices cut into the side
• 7 florets of brocoli
• 15 sugarsnap peas sliced lengthways
• 3 carrots peeled into ribbons
• 4 scallions finely sliced
• small bunch coriander finely chopped for serving
• 1 cup of beansprouts
• 1/2 courgette finely sliced
• 7 baby corn sliced lengthways
• 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
• soy sauce and chilli flakes / Japanese seasoning (I use House Ichimi Togarashi) to taste
• Boiling water
• 4 rounds of fine rice noodles
• chopped pieces of cooked chicken
• 2 heads of pak choi roughly chopped
• Wedges of lime

Optional – finely sliced – peppers, red/white onions, mushrooms, chinese cabbage, red/white cabbage, corn, finely sliced lemongrass or peas.


1. Prepare all your ingredients and set out on a board or in little bowls, because once you start cooking, you have no time to stop and start chopping
2. Heat the stock in a large pan, until boiling, add the noodles
3. Turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook the noodles
4. In a separate pan heat the coconut oil until smoking, add the garlic, ginger and scallions, fry for one minute, then all all the other vegetables and fry for a further two minutes.
5. Place a large pinch of chopped coriander in each bowl, ladle the broth and noodles over it, then add the vegetables
6. Serve in large bowls with lime wedges, soy sauce and chilli flakes


In January we are –

Eating Porridge made from County Armagh food producer White’s Oats, Northern Ireland’s only oat mill and breakfast producer. Our favourites are the Toat’ly Oaty with added Multi Seeds

DrinkingDingle Vodka on ice with freshly squeezed blood orange juice

Cooking from – Salad Love, by Italian David Bez published by Quadrille is a marvel, there are 260 quick, easy, healthy and delicious recipes, one for every weekday of the year, that were all made by Bez in his office with fresh ingredients, minimum preparation and maximum flavour. It’s time to say goodbye to the soup and sandwich rut because Salad Love is in!

If anyone has any food related questions or ideas for products they’d like Nicky to try, do get in touch.

Connect with Nicky on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Post Author: Belfast Times

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