Ahh Chicken Soup. I do love a good chicken soup. Cartons/tins just don’t cut it. If made with love, it is a fantastic nutrient boost to help keep you on top form this winter. Much more than a comfort food, it could really be classed as medicine…
Soup as Medicine?
Yes, scientific studies prove that good old fashioned chicken soup helps to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu. Particularly effective at thinning mucus and easing congestion. Why? The mucus thinning effect is thought to be due to the cysteine content (especially if you use real chicken stock by boiling the bones for a few hours). Onions also contain cysteine… In fact cysteine is a component of an over the counter pharmaceutical medication used for… you guessed it: congestion!
Try to make your own – packaged soup is rarely comparable – in taste and nutrition. Especially when you consider all the benefits of the ingredients below… However, if you buy a quality chicken soup from the refrigerated section, just and add extra herbs/spices/garlic/veg then you will still get some benefits (but making your own stock from organic veggies and chicken bones is always preferable).
Immune Boosting Ingredients
Additional ingredients, particularly the herbs and foods mentioned below have the added benefits of boosting the immune system and fighting bacteria.
Add a good hit as garlic – natures antibiotic (grate it and leave it to ‘develop’ for at least 10 minutes to get more of the anti-microbial effects) Add extra for the last few minutes of cooking.
Ginger has broad spectrum antimicrobial effects. Also warming if you have the chills. Chinese folk stock up on ginger whenever they get sick- and they would know after several thousand years of herbal medicine experience!
Chilli is well known to make your nose stream- use it to your advantage – add a kick to your soup and clear your sinuses. Asian broths are packed with herbs and spices which also have anti-bacterial properties.
Especially Thyme and Oregano which are some of the strongest anti-bacterial herbs around…
Seasonal. Variety. Carrots, potatoes, green beans, peas, winter greens, swede, turnip – for a nutrient boost of vitamins and minerals.
Barley is nice (unless you are avoiding gluten) this little grain is rich in ‘Beta Glucans’ – a natural polysaccharides in Barley and Oats which stimulate the immune system. Mighty useful over the winter. You can also use gluten-free grains such as Quinoa or Amaranth.
Other Medicinal Herbs
Good Tip: when you are making your stock, consider adding some other Immune Boosting Herbs (mild tasting ones!). Astragalus or medicinal mushrooms are good starters. Now I mean medicinal in the sense of immune boosting not hallucinogenic 😉 Oh can you picture that dinner party… So best seek advice from a good reference or ask a local Herbal/Fungi expert. I wouldn’t recommend you pick any mushrooms unless you are experienced and absolutely sure…
Basic Method – My Way
- First… use a good stock (made in a great big stockpot from left over chicken bones and veggie scraps [ideally organic]. Make a new batch of stock once a month, you can freeze bones/veggie scraps until you have enough). Once you’ve made a stock, it will usually provide you with enough for several weeks – add to sauces, stews, soups… for a mineral rich base.
- Now you’re ready to make the actual soup… I don’t do precise recipes so this is a guide!
- Brown an onion and 3 cloves of garlic in coconut oil until golden, add a few handfuls of chopped root veggies (carrots, swede, a little potato) and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of barley or grain of choice – stir for a few minutes more.
- Add the stock- completely cover the veggies. Bring to boil and simmer for around 30-40 minutes until veggies and barley is tender.
- Then add shredded chicken (or you can add raw sliced chicken but turn up the heat and cook for at least 10 minutes).
- Add more delicate vegetables (such as peas or shredded greens) in the last 5-10 minutes as you don’t want to overcook them. Season with a little extra herb salt if needed, pepper, an extra 2 cloves of minced garlic, parsley/coriander, ginger. A pinch of turmeric adds a nice golden colour.
- Sprinkle a final garnish of Parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve and voila.
Be Well this Winter!