The science is in. Mom's chicken soup is not just for the soul. Properties in white meat chicken, carrots, celery, garlic, and onion appear to help relieve cold and flu symptoms better than over the counter medications (source: New York Times, health/science).
To quote Dr. Patty Quinlisk, medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health: "[Researchers] looked at people who had these viral illnesses and, believe it or not, gave some of them chicken soup and didn’t give some of them chicken soup and watched which group did better. The chicken soup-eating group did better and got well faster and felt better..."
"The bottom line is," says Dr. Quinlisk, "our grandmothers were probably right and chicken soup really does work for the cold and flu.”
As one of those hit by this year's flu epidemic, I didn't need to read the scientific research to know homemade chicken soup has healing powers. By the time I'd slurped down a single bowl of the stuff, I was feeling relief from my stuffy nose and sore throat. When my husband caught the illness (thanks to me), I felt terribly guilty and was only too happy to make him more of my soup. I swear, while working in the kitchen, I heard him cry out from the bedroom: "This is great! It's helping! It's helping!"
|Curtis Sliwa, founder of |
The Guardian Angels
Photo by Mahmood Al-Yousif
via Wiki Commons
You may have heard of Sliwa, a New Yorker who founded the Guardian Angels organization. When Sliwa was nearly shot to death in the summer of 1992, the owner of the 2nd Avenue Deli (a legendary Jewish deli here in NYC) sent him chicken soup every day. Sliwa credits this "Jewish penicillin" for helping him recover, and he even repaid the favor by agreeing to represent the Lower East Side in a worldwide pickle eating competition (but that's another story).
The second reason has to do with Sliwa's elderly Aunt Mary, who famously simmered up chicken soup for ailing members of his Guardian Angels' organization. She would take servings of her healing soup right down to them in the subways of New York, where they patrolled.
The final (and more personal) reason I call today's recipe Guardian Angel Chicken Soup is because of my own Aunt Mary (pictured left) who cooked up something very close to this soup for me when I was feeling poorly. My aunt was incredibly supportive through much of my life. I loved her very much and now that she's gone, I think of her as my guardian angel.
Whether you make this soup for yourself or someone you care about, I sincerely hope it brings you good feelings and good health!
|Cleo Coyle, now a CDC|
statistic, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Curtis Sliwa's Aunt Mary used a fairly common method for making her chicken soup. She threw the chicken and veggies into the pot and turned up the heat for about 4 hours. I prefer my method, which is done in one hour, and is just as healthy. Just be sure to use white meat chicken. Properties in the white meat are especially helpful for cold and flu sufferers; they also have anti-cancer properties--and that's why I specify using 1/2 of a whole split chicken breast. May you eat with joy and in good health...
Makes about 2 quarts (about 6 servings)
2 quarts (8 cups) cold water
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1/2 of a whole, split chicken breast,
bone in, skin on >>
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped*
6 ribs of celery, chopped*
4 carrots, chopped*
2 envelopes of Goya's Sazon without Annatto (see my note**)
Finishing salt (such as French Grey or another coarse Sea Salt)
*If you prefer more precise measurements: the chopped onion should measure about 1 cup; the chopped celery 2 cups; and the chopped carrot 2 cups.
**Note: This soup will be bland without adding a mix of spices. The Goya Sazon is my favorite. If you can't find it, try a bouillon cube plus a spice blend that includes onion and garlic powders and ground black or white pepper. Certainly, add any other herbs or spices that you enjoy (e.g. cumin, paprika, thyme, rosemary).
DIRECTIONS: Pour the cold water into the pot. Throw in the smashed garlic and bay leaves. Bring the water to a brisk boil. Place the chicken into the pot, skin side down. (The meaty part of the breast should be submerged in the water.) Boil uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until the meat is tender enough to come off the bone and be shredded with two forks. The water in your pot will boil down during this process. Add in 1 to 2 cups of fresh water to replace the water lost.
When the chicken is cooked enough, remove it from the pot. Add the chopped vegetables, and seasoning (Goya Sazon or a bouillon cube and your own spice mix), and boil for another 10 minutes. While veggies are cooking, remove the skin from the breast and the meat from the bone and shred the breast meat.
When the carrots are fork-tender (10 minutes of cooking should do it), remove the bay leaves from the pot, and add the shredded chicken. If your split chicken breast was particularly large, hold back a bit of the chicken meat from the soup because you don't want to overload it. Add only enough to keep the ingredients balanced.(*Note: If you'd like to make this a chicken noodle soup, this is the point where you'd add your noodles and cook until they're soft.) Cook the soup for another 6 to 8 minutes and...
New York Times bestselling author of
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