Restore yourself with healing broths. How to make bone broth at home.

Nov. 21, 2023
homemade broth made with a recipe
Photo: Getty Images.

The first “restaurants,” so named, weren’t restaurants.

They were broths, bouillons, and consommés, fashioned by cooks in Paris, France, in the mid-late years of the 1700s. Their aim was to “restaurer,” the French for “to restore.” They were restoratives, pick-me-ups, easy-to-digest but fortifying. Cooks who called themselves “restaurateurs” served individual portions of the hot liquids to patrons seated at small, unadorned tables.

The March 9, 1767, edition of the Parisian “L’Avantcourer” (“The Forerunner”), a journal dedicated to “innovation in the arts, the sciences and any other field that makes life more agreeable,” highlighted the “excellent consommés or restaurants” of a Monsieur Minet, which were “carefully warmed in a hot water bath.”

A cup of Francois Massialot’s Potage Sans L’Eau, an original “restaurant.” Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.
A cup of Francois Massialot’s Potage Sans L’Eau, an original “restaurant.” Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.

A few months later, in the July 6th edition, L’Avantcourer wrote up Jean-Francois Vacossin, “restaurateur,” who sold his broths “for the re-establishment of good health to those who have weak and delicate chests,” in a public space outside their homes “where they can go both to enjoy the benefits of society and to take their restaurants.”

These first “salles de restaurateurs,” precursors to the sit-down restaurants as we know them and that flowered in France just before and after the Revolution of 1789, were destinations more for the enervated than the hungry in search of a lavish meal.

The first French eating or dining out places did not serve multi-course meals from a printed or spoken menu because they could not. The enforcement of the guild system in France forbade any but registered “traiteurs” to sell stews, braises or ragouts, that is, dishes that were made up of solid foodstuffs plus liquids.

All the early restaurateurs could sell were the liquids that resulted from heating meats, fowl, and vegetables — not the solids themselves. Hence, broths, bouillons, and consommés, the first “restaurants.”

A warming restorative broth seems appropriate this time of year. I offer the recipe for the most well-known of its day, Francois Massialot’s (1660-1733) “Potage Sans L’Eau,” “a soup made without water,” first published in 1691 in his revolutionary cookbook “Le nouveau cuisinier roïal et bourgeois.” It is the intense set of just juices rendered from very slow cooking of several meats and vegetables.

More great tips and recipes from Bill St. John.

“Le nouveau cuisinier roïal et bourgeois” was the first cookbook published after the Middle Ages that listed recipes alphabetically, in thematic groups and that championed what would become the great achievements of ensuing eras in French cooking: the building blocks of fonds, stocks, and liaisons, as well as a well-organized kitchen.

Francois Massialot’s recipe for Potage Sans L’Eau, from a 1691 edition of his cookbook, “Le nouveau cuisinier roïal et bourgeois."
Francois Massialot’s recipe for Potage Sans L’Eau, from a 1691 edition of his cookbook, “Le nouveau cuisinier roïal et bourgeois.”

Massialot’s original recipe stipulated using capon, pigeon, and partridge, as well as veal, all meats difficult to find (or, not to say, undesired) by the contemporary cook. So, I substitute similar proteins such as chicken and duck. Too, Massialot requires two large “well-tinned” pots, one that will fit inside the other for a slow simmer of “5-6 hours.” By and large, we don’t sport that sort of kitchen equipment.

Well, he did not own a Crock-Pot or other slow cooker, as we generally do, so my telling of his recipe does. But heed Massialot’s important advice to seal the cooker’s lid extremely well, to prevent any steam from escaping. (I used two overlapping sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil.)

Francois Massialot’s 1691 recipe for Potage Sans L’Eau, in the French of his time, in the process of translation for the modern cook. Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.
Francois Massialot’s 1691 recipe for Potage Sans L’Eau, in the French of his time, in the process of translation for the modern cook. Photo by Bill St. John, for UCHealth.

I also omit Massialot’s service of the soup in hollowed-out “boules” of hearty bread, along with some cooked veal sweetbreads and uncured pork. (The recipe in the 1705 edition of the same cookbook also recommends cockscombs, ha.) But give your own cooking that rein if you’re up to it.

Massialot’s recipe does not furnish much quantity of “potage”—maybe 2 cups total if you’re lucky—but, wow, is it concentrated and delicious, replete with gelatin and an array of flavors. A “restaurant” indeed. (Also, a significant amount of fat to skim, but also a lot of cooked meats to use in other meals down the line.)

I also offer a second recipe for what seems to be nutritive rage these days: that for bone broth. If you have not yet used your Thanksgiving Day turkey carcass, it would be a perfect base for bone broth. The recipe here also allows for a trio of cooking methods, one of which also has proven very popular, the Instant Pot.

Potage San’s L’Eau

By Francois Massialot, “Le Nouveau cuisinier roïal et bourgeois,” 1729 edition, adapted for a modern city kitchen.


1 1-pound piece beef shank

1 1-pound lamb shank

1 3-pound frying chicken

2 pounds duck (neck, leg, thigh or combination)

3 medium leeks, white part only, free of soil

1 medium parsnip, partially peeled and split lengthwise

Bouquet garni of “fines herbes” (several sprigs of parsley and tarragon wrapped and tied, in the form of a cigar, in the green “leaf” of a leek)

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt


Prepare a slow cooker (“Crock-Pot” or the like, with a tight-fitting lid). In the pot, snuggly place the pieces of meat and fowl. Atop them evenly lay the leek, parsnip and bouquet garni. Sprinkle with the salt and cover.

Begin on High heat and when the meat has rendered some juices, turn down the slow cooker to Low. Cover the pot and seal the lid with 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, closing all the edges well

Let the slow cooker cook on Low for 8-10 hours. Remove the solids from the rendered juices and broth, reserving the meat and its bones. Degrease the broth. Take as much meat off their bones as you wish, tossing away any fat or gristle, reserving the meat. Serve the broth, heated well.

Bone Broth

Adapted from,, and Bill St. John. The apple cider vinegar helps break down the bones’ collagen, minerals and connective tissues. Makes about 3 quarts.


3 pounds fowl, pork or beef bones, or combination (including, if available, 1/2 pound of chicken feet, a solid option)

2 medium stalks celery, rough chopped

1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, peels left on, roughly chopped (or 2 large leeks, cleaned, white and green parts both, roughly chopped)

2 medium carrots, washed, skin left on, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled, lightly crushed or smashed

2 bay leaves

6 sprigs parsley, leaves and stems both

6 sprigs thyme, leaves and stems both

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, whole

1 rounded teaspoon kosher or sea salt (or 2 tablespoons fish sauce)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar


If unroasted, you may brown the bones and their meat for 30 minutes, on a rimmed baking sheet, in a preheated 450-degree oven.

Place all the ingredients in the chosen cooking vessel and pour in 3 quarts of filtered water.

Instant Pot: The water should not come up more than 2/3 of the way on the sides of the inner pot. Cook on High Pressure for 3 hours (if using only “white” meat such as pork or fowl) and 4 hours (if using beef). Allow the pressure to “naturally release,” which will take about 45 minutes. Open carefully.

Slow Cooker (such as a Crock-Pot): Cook on low for 24 hours (if using only “white” meat such as pork or fowl) and 48 hours (if using beef). Occasionally skim fat that rises to the top of the simmering liquid but keep pot covered throughout.

Stovetop Stock Pot: Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a bare simmer and follow the same timing as Slow Cooker directions.

For all three methods: Carefully strain the bone broth of its solids.

Let cool and place in a safe, cold spot (an outdoor patio, for example) or the refrigerator. Any fat will rise overnight, congeal and can be separated from the bone broth.

Reach Bill St. John at [email protected]

About the author

For more than 40 years, Bill St. John’s specialties have been as varied as they are cultured. He writes and teaches about restaurants, wine, food & wine, the history of the cuisines of several countries (France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the USA), about religion and its nexus with food, culture, history, or philosophy, and on books, travel, food writing, op-ed, and language.

Bill has lent (and lends) his subject matter expertise to such outlets as The Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, 5280 Magazine, and for various entities such as food markets, wine shops, schools & hospitals, and, for its brief life, Microsoft’s In 2001 he was nominated for a James Beard Award in Journalism for his 12 years of writing for Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Bill's experience also includes teaching at Regis University and the University of Chicago and in classrooms of his own devising; working as on-air talent with Denver's KCNC-TV, where he scripted and presented a travel & lifestyle program called "Wine at 45"; a one-week stint as a Trappist monk; and offering his shoulder as a headrest for Julia Child for 20 minutes.

Bill has also visited 54 countries, 42 of the United States, and all 10 Canadian provinces.