It’s cold and flu season; sniffles and sore throats and sick days. Some nasty little bug bit me hard this weekend which meant cough syrup and pyjama time. Nothing quite so sexy as a fever. *cough, cough, cough*Time for a big bowl of nature’s penicillin… Chicken Soup.
Ingredients such as garlic and pepper have excellent healing properties for respiratory ailments, they work in much same way as modern cough medicines, thinning mucus and making breathing easier. Yes… I said ‘mucus’.
Natural Penicillin & Science
It’s not just grandmother’s behind this, there’s actual research on the healing properties of chicken soup. Dr. Irwin Ziment, M.D., pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA School for Medicine, says chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines. For example, amino acids released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems.
I like him but I’m pretty sure my Grandmother could have taken him in an arm wrestle. She was tough as nails. Wrung the neck of a of a goose, milked the goats, handled an axe and a chainsaw all before breakfast.
If she were here right now she’d have me tucked in bed, a mustard plaster on my chest, a wool sock wrapped around my throat, an ancient humidifier humming in the corner loaded with eucalyptus oil, a Hot Rum Toddie in one hand, a big bowl of soup precariously balanced on a pillow and an aspirin on stand by.
She’d say “Eat, this then drink that, take this aspirin and get some rest!”
Then she’d turn and yell at my Grandfather who was sneaking cookies in the kitchen “FRANK! Those are for tomorrow!” Ears like a dog that woman.
The Science of Real Food
Science and Grandmothers agree; good food is nature’s medicine. That’s why I choose as natural a product as I can and go organic as much as possible. Truth be told, I’m rarely sick but when I am… all hands on deck.
The clear chicken broth is high in antioxidants, packed with protein yet easy to swallow and loaded with nutrition. The aspirin works on pain, inflammation and any trace of a fever. The mustard plaster and steaming eucalyptus broke up congestion. No idea what the wool sock was for… luck maybe. Or perhaps her and the other Grandmas had some kind of bet going.
“I’ll bet you your pickle recipe I can get my granddaughter to wear a wool sock around her neck…”
It seems to me Grandma had a lot of pickle recipes.
The Healing Properties of Maternal Wisdom
Booze is, of course, is the international grandmother sleep-aid. To this day I’m sure she used to drug me so she and Granddad could get up to no good. Trust me when I say there was no getting up from Grandma’s Hot Rum Toddies!
Today I’m skipping the mustard plaster because I don’t think it works with Dijon. Steamed up the bathroom earlier with a hot bath and yup, you guessed it, eucalyptus and other essential oils. Had a big bowl of steaming hot chicken soup and before bed, just for the sake of nostalgia, I’ll have a little toddie with dark rum to wash down the acetaminophen. But the wool socks are staying on the feet Gram!
3 – 4 carrots, peeled & chopped 8 ounces green beans, chopped 1 piece leek (white), chopped fine 1/2 cup peas (frozen or fresh) 1 green onion, chopped, fine 1 stem of parsley – top only, chopped fine 2 tablespoons Butter salt & pepper to taste
Place chicken into a large soup pot. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, leek, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and peppercorns and cover completely with cold water.
Bring pot to a boil then reduce temperature and simmer gently for 1 hour – 90 minutes, removing film from top of broth as needed.
Strain broth and reserve, discard cooked vegetables and reserve chicken.
Once the meat has cooled, gently remove from the bones, cut or shred as needed and return to the pot with the broth. Bring the broth back to a simmer and add carrots and leek. Simmer for 7 – 10 minutes and add green beans and peas. Simmer for 5 minutes then finish with butter, green onion and parsley. Simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes… or remove from heat to storage for later. Freezes like a dream.
Fearlessly cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer, food marketing consultant, recipe developer and sustainability advocate. A Cordon Bleu trained chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and now shares all things delicious - right here.