chicken soup: a natural remedy

“Sore throat? Fever? Have some chicken soup and you’ll feel better.” Moms have been feeding us steamy bowls of this simple homemade remedy for years and years and, while most could not confirm definitively why or whether it was in fact what made us feel better, I think the majority would agree it played a role – even if only for some heartwarming culinary comfort.

It has been part of popular folklore for centuries that chicken soup has healing properties, but within the past decade or so, some scientific evidence has come to light that gives that belief some credence. Studies showed that this particular soup possesses anti-inflammatory and inhibitory properties that dampen inflammation and reduce mucous. While they weren’t able to pinpoint exactly what the magic ingredient in the soup was, they were able to prove that these benefits had little to do with a placebo affect, as hot water did not produce similar results. If I can avoid a visit to the doctor and a dose of antibiotics by resting up and feeding my body some of this goodness, I’m in.

A couple weeks ago, Joe was a little down and out. Not feeling well, congested, etc… I decided to whip up a big old pot of chicken noodle soup for him, and, boy was I glad I did because the onset of my cold wasn’t far behind. It dawned on me when I was throwing it together that this was such a basic recipe, yet – very broad statement ahead, don’t get offended – many of my peers probably wouldn’t have a clue how to make it… and they should.

That moment sparked my idea for a new category on KarmaCucina called “Back to Basics.” I’ve preached before about the sense of urgency I feel when it comes to getting people back into the kitchen to prepare their own food and sitting down with their families for dinner, so I’m not going to spend a moment more on that. Instead, today, with this new category, I’d like to make a valiant attempt at doing just that by periodically reintroducing my readers to some very vanilla staples that I believe should be part of everyone’s culinary repertoire, kitchen-phobes and kitchen mavens alike.  I know I tend to get a little overzealous at times and perhaps prepare dishes that are a bit more involved than the general audience would ever attempt, but bear with me, because in this new category, I’m striving to entice you with simplicity and lure you into the kitchen with the fundamentals.  Consider this a challenge from me to you to take control of your kitchen (and your life) and start preparing more meals for yourself.  If you’re on the timid side, do not be weary.  This is a perfectly simple recipe to start with.  Plus, it makes a big old pot that you can freeze and stow away for a rainy (or sick) day.  Better yet, if you’re feeling like a super nice friend, make it for a pal who’s feeling a little under the weather.  They’ll love you for it!

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Chicken Soup
8 – 10 servings

4 organic chicken thighs (≈ 1 1/2 lbs)
6 organic chicken drumsticks (≈ 1 1/2 lbs)
4 stalks of celery (including leaves), chopped (≈ 1 1/2cups)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped (≈ 2 cups)
1 large onion, finely chopped (≈ 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 1/4 cups farfalline
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

Put thighs and drumsticks in your largest pot.  Cover with 5 1/2 quarts of cold water.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Skim off foam with a spoon or a fine mesh skimmer.  Add 1 teaspoon of pepper, 2 teaspoons of  salt, celery, carrots, onion and garlic.   Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook at a low simmer for 1 1/2 hours, giving an occasional stir.

Remove chicken from pot* and set aside, allowing to cool slightly.  Raise heat and bring soup to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until tender, approximately 6 – 7 minutes.  About halfway through cooking the pasta, add the parsley.  Turn off heat when pasta is cooked.

Meantime, pull meat from the drumsticks and thighs, discarding bones, fat, and cartilage.  Break the meat down into bite-size pieces with your fingers or a knife.  Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pot, give it a good stir, and season with more salt and pepper to taste.

*Chicken should be cooked entirely after 1 1/2 hours.  You will know it’s done if it’s nearly falling off the bones with a few pokes of a fork.  If it is not cooked, continue simmering on low until the fork test is successful.


2 Responses to “chicken soup: a natural remedy”

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  1. Ted says:

    I haven’t had chicken soup since… 2nd grade. Being a vegetarian, my natural remedies consists of lentil soup, lots of fresh garlic to eat whole, vitamin C packs, wine (three glasses) and lots of running.


  1. […] and the flu.  I can remember when I was sick as a child my mom administering an elixir of homemade chicken soup, saltines, and ginger ale.  Who knows which one really worked, but all together, it almost always […]

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