With the cold weather settling in and the holidays coming up - someone is BOUND to catch a cold. And there’s nothing more naturally healing than a warm bowl of homemade chicken soup! There’s actually science behind the healing powers of chicken soup…there’s just something about it that helps our bodies heal - or better yet, prevent the cold in the first place! This NY Times article lays out some of the studies.
But if we break it down by ingredient, we can easily see why it would work. Starting with a base of extra virgin olive oil - a healthy fat that reduces inflammation - we’re already on the right track.
Followed by antibacterial/antiviral onions, which are also a good source of Vitamin C, we’re building in those virus fighting elements. Carrots continue to boost immunity by being loaded with Vitamins A and C. And they also help reduce inflammation (are we noticing a trend yet?). Our mirepoix is finished off with celery which also has immunity boosting properties, as well as helping to hydrate the body and alkalize it (something most of us are in need of since we generally don’t eat NEARLY enough green vegetables). All of this means our base alone will already have us feeling better.
Then we have our chicken. Here is where you have to be careful - only because chickens are often raised in terrible conditions in this country - negating their health benefits to humans. When it comes to meat I always recommend checking out a local farmer who hand raises his/her chickens. Yes, you will absolutely pay more, but in this case, you’ll also get what you’re paying for. Organic, humanely raised chicken has been found to be higher in Vitamin E and healthy fats than their pent up cousins. Chicken in general is also high in Vitamin B3, and of course, protein to help your body maintain it’s strength while it fights that cold for you.
Sick or not, chicken soup is a classic cold weather dish and if you don’t have a tried and true recipe in your arsenal - I hope you’ll give mine a try. Stay well my friends!
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
8 C. chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper
Chopped, fresh parsley (optional)
In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes. Season vegetable with salt.
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Add to pan with vegetable, snuggling them down a bit so they touch the bottom of the pan. Allow the chicken to cook until just browned on either side. About 5 minutes per side.
Pour stock into the pan. Bring to a simmer and allow everything to cook for 20 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are cooked through.
** Alternative - if you don’t have stock at the ready, use darker, bonier pieces of chicken like bone-in, skin on thighs, wings or drumsticks. Season well with salt & pepper. Then cover with 8 C. of water. The darker meat will create a similarly rich broth right there in your pot!**
Remove the chicken from the pan and shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot and allow everything to warm through again, about 2 more minutes.
**OPTIONAL - you can also add in some small pasta and allow it to simmer in the soup for about 8 minutes to create chicken noodle soup. OR, add already cooked rice in before serving for a chicken and rice variation!**
Serve hot, topped with fresh parsley if desired.