It’s that time of year when the sniffles and aches and pains start. My mum always makes chicken soup when this happens and it’s a habit I’ve inherited too. It always seems to help.  Here is today’s pot ready to boil as one of the kids is brewing something.  It doesn’t look too tempting at this stage but a big handful of herbs went in next.

The medicinal benefits of chicken soup have been discussed for centuries and in 2000, a research paper was published in ‘CHEST’, the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. It showed that ‘Grandma’s soup’ (containing chicken bones, vegetables, herbs and seasoning) changed inflammatory responses in the cytokine cascade – and could therefore improve the symptoms of upper respiratory infections. (Read more in the link below.)  Maybe there is real ‘science’ in this home remedy.  It’s definitely worth a try.

Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil taxis in vitro, Rennard BO, CHEST 2000

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2018: RECIPE I’ve had lots of requests for the recipe… The research paper doesn’t specify other than what’s above.  I’m the sort of cook who throws things in a pot and hopes for the best, so this suits me fine.  But here is my usual rough-and-ready recipe:

Take the largest saucepan you have. Put in: 3 Chicken Carcasses, a couple of chicken thighs or drumsticks, an onion halved, a carrot or 2 halved (not peeled), 2 sticks of celery, 3 (or more) garlic cloves and 2 bay leaves. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add a few whole peppercorns. Boil for as long as you have – at least 45 mins.  At this stage take the meat off the legs and reserve. (I often let mine boil for 2 hours just to ensure all the collagen is starting to break down).  Add more water if you need. For the last 15 mins add a big handful of fresh parsley and salt to taste.  Bash everything around so the garlic cloves etc release their goodness.  Then strain using a sieve. If the liquid is very watery sometimes you need to boil it down.

I use this liquid for many things:

  • With extra chicken pieces added to make a chunky soup (add more chopped veg if needed, broccoli or greens are nice).  Maybe add some small pasta too.
  • I freeze it in ice cubes and use as an addition to sauces and gravy
  • Use to make risotto / paella (like a chicken stock)
  • If the kids are ill I cook pasta in half water, half this to give extra goodness

NOTE:  I buy chicken carcasses from Hook and Cleaver in South Ealing – they sell ready-packed.  Otherwise you can also use wings, drumsticks, thighs, anything with bones.  I also often add a big chunk of ginger (especially if it’s virus season).