Chicken Soup: Forget Your SOUL, Just GET WELL

February 21, 2011


soup vegetables

Since Thanksgiving Day someone in this house has either been sick, injured or sick AND injured.

It’s February 21st.

Medications are not working, nor is deep cleaning with radioactive cleaning products. And so, I am pulling out My People’s go-to weapon: homemade chicken soup.

Apparently it’s more than just an old wives’ tale that chicken soup heals. Researchers at the Univeristy of Nebraska Medical Center have studied chicken soup’s ability to inhibit neutrophil migration. This mitigates the symptoms of the common cold and other respiratory tract infections.

As if that wasn’t enough, more research indicates that chicken soup, particularly that which has rich collagen found in bone cooked broths, lower blood pressure. A good bone broth gels when cooled, but that gelatin is often lacking in commercially prepared soups – so make it from scratch.

I do this in two stages: make the stock and then use the stock to make the soup with some freshly cooked vegetables and chicken. (You don’t want to use the chicken that creates the stock, all the flavor has been taken out for the stock and you’re left with dry, tasteless chicken, but an awesome stock.)

Here is my favorite chicken stock recipe straight from the pages of the time-honored The Gourmet Cookbook. I prefer organic to conventional for health and lifestyle reasons – but this can be prepared either way. It yields a really richly flavored and colored broth that even my grandmother would be proud of.

Chicken Stock

Makes aobut 10 cups
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to Finish: 4 1/2 hours (give or take)

1 (3- to 3 1/2 pound organic chicken, cut into 8 pieces, neck and giblets (except liver) reserved
4 quarts cold water
2 onions, unpeeled, halved
2 whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 celery rib, halved
2 carrots, halved
1 teaspoon salt
6 long fresh parsley sprigs (I prefer italian)
8 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California bay leaf

Put chicken pieces (including neck and giblets) in an 8-quart stockpot, add cold water and bring to a boil, skimming froth. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, skimmith froth occasionally, for 3 hours.

Pour stock through fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. If using stock right away, skim off and discard fat. If not, cool stock completely, uncovered, then refrigerate, covered, until cold. Scrape congealed fat from chilled stock.

You can refrigerate the stock for up to 1 week or keep it frozen for up to 3 months.

Now! Let’s turn this into some SOUP.

Chicken Soup

Yields: 6 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
8 cups fresh chicken stock
1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken (I like to use the fresh roasted chickens at the supermarket)
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.

Go. Eat. BE WELL.

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