Is chicken soup really good for the soul?
I woke up this morning with the beginnings of a cold - something I have not had the pleasure of in years! And all I wanted was soup …
Make no bones about it – chicken soup is many peoples go to dish when they feel unwell - aside from its comforting connotations is there more to it than you think?
Bone broths feel so restorative and therapeutic because they’re packed with immune-supporting minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon and sulphur. What’s more, a warming bowl of chicken soup delivers these nutrients in a form that’s super easy for a poorly system to absorb.
Other key ingredients in a chicken soup include onions, garlic and additional vegetables that add flavour and a healthy dose of phytonutrients - vital for a well-functioning immune system. They can also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn may help to ease the symptoms of a pesky cold.
Chicken is especially rich in a compound called carnosine, which studies suggest helps reduce that stuffy, congested feeling in your nose and throat - alongside inhaling the steamy aromas which help thin the mucus down.
The gelatine, glucosamine and chondroitin contained within the bones are released into the broth, absorbed by our bodies and used to repair and rebuild our own connective tissue while reducing inflammation, helping you to get back on your feet faster after a bout of illness.
I’ve tested many recipes over the years, and this is my favourite, loaded with parsley and topped with lemon zest … I’ll post the recipe at a later stage - for now I need to eat my soup with a nice piece of wholemeal bread and go lie down!!
3 celery stalks - finely chopped
1 onion - finely diced
2 carrots - grated
4-6 cloves garlic - minced or finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary - finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs (I use herbs d'province - it has a touch of lavender)
8 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup pearl barley
1 small whole chicken
salt and pepper to season
1 cup Cavolo nero, silverbeet or spinnach
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon and zest
In a large saucepan or stockpot, place a drizzle of olive oil and brown your chicken all over.
Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
Put a little more oil in the pan and add the first 4 ingredients - saute until caramelised.
Put chicken back into the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to low, simmer for approx. 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked and falling from the bone.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and remove the chicken. When the chicken is cool enough strip the meat off and return to the pot with the remaining ingredients and reheat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper
The Cheats Version
1) The browning of the chicken and the sautéing of the veggies gives the soup a deeper flavour. But you can miss all that out and just put everything in the pot.
2) I often roast a chicken on a Sunday and make a salad with pearl barely to go with it. You can use 1 cup of cooked pearl barley and 1/2 a roast chicken, reducing the amount of liquid by 2 cups. Saute the veg. and then put your cooked chicken and barley into the pot with the remaining ingredients. This only needs half the cook time. Garnish as above.