Thursday, January 19, 2017

Healing Turmeric-Ginger Broth

Learn how to make the most delicious, anti-inflammatory turmeric-ginger broth! I love adding chopped fresh turmeric to chicken soup, but this recipe takes the turmeric content and bioavailability to a whole new level. I've created a broth that uses both fresh turmeric and dried, powdered turmeric in combination with other ingredients to get the maximum amount of nutrients into the broth.

Curcuminoids are beneficial polyphenol chemicals found in turmeric. They shut down, or dampen, the primary inflammatory switch in the body, which is a very important step in healing many health issues including cancers, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and food allergies & sensitivities.

Disease is caused by getting too many things that you don't need (inflammation, stress, toxins, infections, allergens), and too little of the things that you do need (antioxidants, relaxation, exercise, healthy foods, proper nutrients).

The magic of curcumin is that it is a master-balancer (an adaptogen). Cancer research has shown that curcumin can shut off the master switch of inflammation called nuclear factor kappa beta (NFκB) better than almost anything else, making it one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatory substances. At the same time, research has also demonstrated that curucmin can help to combat various infections (yeast, bacterial, and viral) that can lead to the inflammation in the first place. Curucmin also activates our genes (via a gene transcription factor call Nrf2) to signal our cells to make more antioxidants, which lowers inflammatory damage. But there is more! When this Nrf2 is activated, we also start to make hundreds of beneficial detoxification proteins to remove harmful toxins from our cells.

Turmeric is amazing, isn't it?

The polyphenols (which include the curcuminoids) in turmeric are lipophilic, which means turmeric is best mixed or cooked with fat so you can get the full benefit of this food! This is one of the ways turmeric has been traditionally used in India. Spices are always sautéed first in fat (often ghee) before being used in recipes. This not only allows for the absorption of the beneficial polyphenols, but it also brings out the flavors in the spices.

Healing Turmeric-Ginger Broth

This broth makes a delicious chicken noodle soup like pictured above. You can get very creative with what you add to your broth. Think of foods that naturally complement turmeric: Chicken, fish, lentils, chickpeas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, kale, spinach, carrots, zucchini, lemon, green onions, cilantro, and parsley! Look for fresh turmeric in the produce section of your local health food store. It's usually found near the fresh ginger.

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons turmeric powder
½ cup (heaping) very finely chopped fresh turmeric
¼ cup 
(heaping) very finely chopped fresh ginger
1 large onion, chopped (leave the skins on)
3 to 3 ½ pounds organic chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3 large celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
handful fresh parsley or cilantro
1 tablespoon herbed sea salt or plain sea salt
16 cups water
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Heat a 9-quart heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Then add the dried turmeric, fresh turmeric, and ginger. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the onion (and the onions skins for a deeper colored stock) and sauté a few minutes more. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and bring to a gentle boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the chicken thighs and place them onto a plate to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones. Then return the bones and skin to the pot of simmering stock, cover, and simmer on low heat for an additional 2 to 3 hours or longer.

Then strain through a fine mesh strainer into another large pot or bowl. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Ladle some of the broth into wide-mouth quart jars and refrigerate. Serve the rest of the broth with the cooked chicken, cooked rice noodles, chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, and green onions. Or add your favorite vegetables (like thinly sliced kale or collard greens, diced carrots, onions, and zucchini) and cooked lentils or mung beans. Add in some leftover cooked brown rice or quinoa too if you have it. There are so many ways to use turmeric broth. Get creative!

Variation: Use a whole 3 1/2 pound chicken in place of the thighs if desired. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours at first (instead of one hour), then remove the chicken from the broth, remove the meat from the bones and place the bones and skin back into the pot and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more hours or longer. 

Notes: Leave the skins on your fresh turmeric and ginger for this need to peel them! The rice noodles pictured here are a Thai rice noodle that just needs to be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using (no cooking required). I usually keep a few packs in my pantry for quick Pad Thai dinners, or quick curry-noodle soups.

Warning: This soup will temporarily stain your your children's faces yellow (around their mouths and chin if they are slurping their soup), and it will permanently stain clothes, tablecloths and light colored cloth napkins, and everything it comes into contact with! It is that potent. :)

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Looks amazing! Is there a vegetarian version?

    1. Hi Alison,

      I don't have a vegetarian version. could probably create one quite easily by adding 1-2 more tablespoons of oil when sautéing the spices. Add another onion, extra celery and carrots, along with some kombu seaweed (4-inch piece), and just omit the chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for a about 2 hours. Let me know how it turns out! :)

  2. I'm going to try this soup tomorrow. Sometimes our store's turmeric is old and rotten looking. Can powder be used instead of fresh?

    1. Hi Rainy,

      Yes, you could omit the fresh turmeric and replace it with 2-4 tablespoons of dried (powdered), in addition to the 2 tablespoons already called for. Start with the lesser amount if you are unaccustomed to the flavor of turmeric. :)

  3. Turmeric broth is tasty! Thank you for the recipe. I was skeptical at first with that much turmeric but I found that the flavor to be very pleasant. We used it to make noodle soup. I could not find the thai noodles but I did find Lundberg brown rice spaghetti noodles and it was very tasty. I added zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, a sweet onion, spinach, and the chicken.

    1. Thank you for the feedback Charlene! Your chicken-noodle-vegetable soup combo sounds great. :)

  4. I made the broth as suggested and WOW, it is phenomenal! So delicious and nourishing. Made the noodle soup as suggested. My husband and I were even drinking it plain out of mugs at lunch! Perfect for this bitter winter weather. Thanks Alissa!

    1. Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for the feedback! It is the perfect recipe to help stay warm and nourishing through winter. :)

  5. What do I do with all the wonderful diced and cut stuff. I don't want to just throw it away, it still has lots of flavor

    1. Hi there,

      I usually will use the bones and veggies and make ANOTHER batch of broth, using less water the second time. After the second batch the veggies are usually totally broken down and all of their goodness is in the broth. :)

    2. And then I compost everything in our city composting bin. I actually don't ever throw away any food stuff. :)

  6. I was wondering what type of fish you would suggest? I am thinking frozen fish at Trader Joe's to keep the price down. What would you recommend?

    1. I there,

      I would suggest some kind of firm or semi-firm, low mercury, white fish such as black cod. You can learn more about safe fish through EWG's website:

    2. You can either add some cooked fish to the soup when it is hot, or cut up the raw fish (minus the skin) into cubes and gently simmer it into the soup for about 10 minutes before serving. :)

  7. Turmeric and bones both have significant amounts of lead. Is this a concern? Also olive oil smoke point is really low, it creates carcinogens when sautéed is there another oil that would be just as good?

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment. It really depends on where you are sourcing your turmeric from. Make sure to buy organic! I usually assume most folks here already do that. There has been lead found in a number of cheap non-organic sources of turmeric. Some of the major organic brands have tested out ok w/o lead contamination. As for the olive oil, you are just sautéing at a low heat here...not heating high enough to reach smoke point. If you are really concerned you could just try another oil like coconut oil or avocado oil.


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