I should have known better than to end my post on porridge with, “I wish you and your family all the good health that my little family has enjoyed these past few months.” That one line was just too tempting for the powers that be. Less than 24 hours after hitting the “Publish” button, one of the children came home with a cough…which turned into a fever… and then a sore throat…that was diagnosed as a virus… and the next four days were misery for the poor dear.
Immediately, I shifted into nurse-mom mode and initiated a host of health promoting cures: salt-water gargle, humidifier in the bedroom, increase of fluids (including warm lemon water with ginger and honey to soothe a sore throat), nasal irrigation (our G.P. thinks using a Neti-Pot is a great way to keep the nose clear and help reduce post-nasal drip which may cause a sore throat or a cough), and, my very favourite, homemade chicken soup.
Chicken soup?! What a load of hooey…or is it? The benefits of chicken soup were first reported centuries ago, but there’s never been any real proof about its efficacy, until now. University of Nebraska Medical Center physician and researcher Stephen Rennard, put the chicken soup folk remedy to the test by taking it out of the kitchen and into his laboratory. What he discovered has settled the dispute, once and for all.
In his findings, Dr. Rennard proved chicken soup has a number of substances, including an anti-inflammatory mechanism, that helps ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
Though he was not able to identify the exact ingredient or ingredients in the soup that make it effective against fighting colds, Dr. Rennard theorizes it may be a combination of ingredients in the soup that work together to have beneficial effects.
And there you have it…no longer just a wives tale…good old fashioned chicken soup…mother approved and doctor tested. Be well!
Good Old Fashioned Chicken Soup with Orzo
Serves 6 to 8
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole chicken, skin left on, cut into pieces including breasts, split in two, wings, drumsticks, thighs, and back
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
4 pints/2 quarts boiling water
2 teaspoons table salt
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/4”/3cm ginger, sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium ribs celery, sliced
1 cup/2oz shredded green cabbage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup/100gm orzo (may substitute noodles)
fresh parsley leaves, chopped for garnish
Ground black pepper
1. Heat oil in large soup pot. When oil shimmers and starts to smoke, add chicken and sauté until brown on all sides.
2. Remove chicken and set aside. Add half of chopped onions to pot and sauté until colored and softened slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add chicken pieces, except for the breasts, back to pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is fully cooked and releases its juices, about 20 minutes.
4. Increase heat to high, add boiling water along with the two breast halves, salt, ginger, garlic, and bay leaves and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken breasts are cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove chicken breasts from pot and set aside. Strain broth, discarding bones, and set aside.
6. Skim fat from broth, reserving two tablespoons which should be added back to soup pot. Return soup pot to medium-high heat. Add remaining onions, along with carrot, cabbage, and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
7. Remove skin from cooled chicken and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Discard skin and bones.
8. Add thyme, strained broth, chicken, and orzo to the soup pot. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
9. Taste, adjust seasoning, serve with chopped parsley, if desired.