Can chicken soup really cure a cold? I won’t go so far as to claim it’s a miracle healer, but I will say that a good chicken soup can boost your immune system and improve your chances of beating a virus. This soup is a fantastic weapon when a cold or a flu bug is knocking you around like a great Canadian winter storm.
And if your nasty illness hit before you had a chance to go grocery shopping, no worries: this recipe can easily be adapted to what you have in the fridge. Alternatively, why not make this recipe a Sunday cooking project? Make a double batch and freeze it so you’re prepared when the next bug hits.
Nine healthy reasons to make this chicken soup
1. Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, an active compound that can boost your immune system, making it stronger and more capable of fighting various infections and diseases.
2. The fresh herbs rosemary, thyme and oregano contain essential oils that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
3. It’s important to use real chicken broth that’s been made with the bones of a chicken because they contain B vitamins (in the marrow), calcium, magnesium and zinc all of which can assist your immune cells in fighting off colds and flu.
5. Orange carrots and sweet potato provide a rich source of pro-vitamin A to assist the lungs in fighting off infections.
6. Ginger and garlic are both powerful anti-inflammatories and immune-supportive spices. You will notice this soup has triple the spices of a standard soup. The active ingredient allicin in freshly crushed garlic works like a natural antibiotic so make sure you eat enough to get the real therapeutic effect!
7. Hot soup helps to thin out mucus. When we’re healthy our nasal mucus is clear and thin, serving to filter air during inhalation. During times of infection, mucus can thicken into a moist, nutrient-rich environment that encourages growth of viruses and bacteria. A mug of chicken soup can thin that mucus and help the body fight infection.
8. This soup is hydrating and provides electrolyte minerals that your body uses to carry electrical signals from cell to cell. When we run a fever, we can get dehydrated, which decreases these critical minerals.
9. It tastes so darn good due to all the fresh ingredients. That alone will cheer you up and a smile has been shown to be the best immune booster of all!
Immune-boosting chicken soup recipe
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped fine
2 inches ginger, chopped fine
2 cups leeks, chopped
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 cups carrots, cut into ¼-inch rounds
2 cups sweet potatoe, diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1/2 tsp grey or pink sea salt
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup parsley, freshly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, freshly chopped
1 tbsp of each oregano, thyme, and rosemary, chopped*
2 bay leaf, whole
4 cups kale, washed and torn
1 cup snow peas or green beans, chopped
4 skinless chicken thighs, chopped into cubes
5 garlic cloves, sliced and divided
*If these herbs are unavailable fresh then use 1 tsp of each dried. Look for fresh herbs whenever possible get the flavour and essential oils.
1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, 3 garlic cloves, ginger and leeks. Cook until softened — about 3 minutes.
2. Add chopped vegetables, chicken, salt, chicken stock and bay leaf. Increase temperature to high, bring to a boil and reduce heat so soup simmers. Cook for approximately 25 minutes until vegetables soften, but aren’t mushy.
3. Stir the kale, peas, fresh herbs, 2 cloves of fresh finely chopped garlic into the soup. Simmer for another few minutes to blend flavours and soften kale. Adding these ingredients at the end ensures that the veggies are bright green and the garlic is providing maximum immune benefits.
Easy immune-building chicken stock recipe
Make a calcium-rich chicken stock in advance so your immune-boosting soup will come together in a flash when you’re under the weather. You can store it up to three months in the freezer. All the veggie scraps provide extra immune supportive minerals, and the best part? The stock is essentially free because it’s made from stuff you were going to throw out.
Whole chicken carcass (leftovers from roast chicken dinner)
12 cups (3 litres) of water
2 cups vegetable scraps: carrot skins, celery leaves, sweet potato peels
Seasoning: parsley and basil stems
Optional: unrefined sea salt to taste if desired
Put the chicken, vegetable scraps and the water in a large pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and stir well. Cover and cook for 20 min. Remove any large bones or skin and either use to make the soup or cool before storing.
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
For more amazing recipes visit our recipe section.
-Article originally published September, 2010