Wonders of the Chicken Soup and Recipe – Is it a Common Cold Relief Remedy or a Cure?

Chicken soup is the probably the oldest soup recipe in the world, and in addition to be a very tasty it’s been used as a remedy to relief a cold – also called a comfort food or feel-good food when you are sick. It has been known that there is no other remedy that effective as the chicken soup. For centuries it was believed that chicken soup had the healing powers or cure for the illnesses as a common cold. This sparked attention among researchers and scientists to conduct studies in that field. The research concluded that chicken soup was in deed a relief remedy for a common cold, and not a cure. However, with the continued advances in science and technology time will tell what other benefits will be discovered in the future.

Chicken Soup Scientific Research HistoryThe research done in 1978 at Mount Sinai Medical Centre, Miami Beach, Florida by group of lung specialists concluded that the chicken soup helped ease the nasal congestion than the hot and cold water. The study was performed on 150 individuals with colds who were told to drink hot chicken soup, hot water and cold water. The objective of the experiment was to measure how quickly the mucus and air flowed through each individual’s nose. Interestingly, note this: ‘Hot liquids in general can be soothing, if only because they require you to slow down, sit still, and sip patiently in order to consume them without scalding yourself’ – as Dr. Andrew Weil suggests in his article: ‘Can Chicken Soup Banish Colds?’. This one actually made me smile as he is right; we tend to forget the physical component of the eating hot stuff.

The research done in early 1990’s has shown that the home made chicken soup contains substances that can relief a common cold. This research was done by Dr. Rennard and his research team at the University of Nebraska. It was concluded that the chicken soup can relief cold symptoms such as a stuffed nose, coughing and congestion – typical signs when body is fighting a cold. In more detail, when we get a cold, neutrophils [cells that fight infection] move to the airways like an army to destroy the attacking virus. When virus is being destroyed our body responds with inflammatory reactions such as a stuffed nose, coughing and congestion. However, when chicken soup is consumed it slows down movement of these neutrophils thus the reduction in the cold symptoms, and therefore we feel better.

The most recent study in 2008 concluded that the ‘Chicken soup may lower blood pressure, study finds’ – an article you can read from USAToday. However, you may want to take a note of this quote: As this study suggests, some collagen in chicken may lower blood pressure," said Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. "But be careful. The salt we put on our chicken and in our chicken soup may offset or even reverse this potential benefit."

Hopefully in the future the above research areas can be repeated and fully validated, as it seems there was no further scientific studies performed to confirm the 1978, 1990s and 2008 findings.

Difference between Chicken Soup and Chicken Broth, Chicken Stock
May be this terminology should have been explained at the beginning, however, let me clarify now. Chicken soup is a mixture of chicken stock, vegetables, chicken itself, meat pieces, and/or some kind of noodles. Chicken broth is the liquid part of the chicken soup. And the chicken stock is a liquid in which chicken or chicken parts and vegetables been boiled. Confused? If so just call everything chicken soup.

How About Chicken from the Chicken Soup
Chicken also contains an amino acid called cysteine that is released when you make the soup. This amino acid thins mucus in the lungs, aiding in the healing process, and with the benefit of the hot chicken vapours it leads to even faster recovery and comfort. Coincidentally the cysteine is similar to the drug called acetylcysteine. Acetylcysteine is a drug prescribed by doctors to those who suffer from bronchitis. For those who like to learn more technical stuff about cysteine and acetylcysteine – just follow the link.

How About All the Vegetables from the Chicken Soup
Yes, how about all the good stuff cooked with the soup like carrots, onions, leaks, celery, garlic, parsley, black pepper, basil leaf, and sea salt. And if you adventures then you can also throw some cauliflower, parsnips, turnips and sweet potato. All these vegetables cooked in the chicken soup are loaded with many valuable nutrients. However, one may ask are they really loaded, since it has been know that heat can also kill nutrients. That I cannot answer, thus in my opinion, I doubt that all the nutrients from the vegetables do exists after prolonged and required cooking of the chicken soup.

Cleaning Chicken before Making Chicken Stock or Soup
It is very important that you clean raw chicken or chicken parts before making chicken stock or chicken soup. This is what I do. I usually clean chicken under running cold water, remove skin and extra fat, and then rinse it with white vinegar. I fill a pot with cold water, enough to cover the chicken and plus extra above the chicken. Bring to boil until the foam forms. This should take about few minutes of boiling. On the side I prepare a pot of measured water for chicken stock or soup and start heating up. Then I take the partially pre-boiled chicken, rinse with cold water again to remove residues of foam, and transfer to the other pot with correct amount of water. Now you are ready for nice clean chicken soup.

Are You Ready To Make Your Chicken Soup?
Now that you have cleaned your chicken or chicken parts, first you can prepare chicken stock, and then decide if you want to continue with chicken soup. If you search Internet you will find thousands of recipes for chicken stock or soup. And believe or not on some occasions you will find the same recipe copied from blog to blog, from web site to web site. I am not sure if you seen this one before, but this is what I do.

3 L of Water
3 Chicken Drumsticks
2 Chicken Breasts
5 Bay Leafs
1 Table Spoon of Black Peppercorn

[1] Simple, combine all, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours.
[2] If you planning to consume chicken stock, you can add pinch of salt here to taste.

3 L of Chicken Stock
5 Large Carrots
1 Large Onion
½ Head of Cauliflower
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Table Spoon of Salt [optional]
5 Table Spoons of Small Shell Pasta [optional]

[1] Simple, combine chicken stock, carrots and onion, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour.
[2] Add cauliflower and boil for another ½ hour.
[3] Remove chicken into separate container and store temporarily.
[4] Now that you have all nice and cooked, you can easily make nice soup with little of extra work. Take 4 carrots and onion and pureed them in the blender, pour back into the soup.
[5] Take left over carrot slice and put back to the soup.
[6] Take one chicken breast and mash in the blender with some chicken broth. Pour back to the soup.
[7] Take all chicken drum sticks, strip from the bone, cut them into pieces and put back to the soup.
[8] Add garlic, and bring to boil, simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Optional: Salt is optional and can be added on the end to taste. I noticed that pureed carrots, onion and chicken breast add nice sweet taste.
Optional: Add small shell pasta in Step [8].

How About that Extra Chicken Breast?
With extra chicken breast you can make nice chicken salad, but that is recipe for next future post.

Hope this post summarizes all you needed to know about the chicken soup. So now when you find that you are about to come down with a cold, get those ingredients going fast and make yourself home made chicken soup. In the future, I will be cooking different variations of chicken soups thus I will be sharing them here with you. However, if you are too sick to get to the chicken soup part, just enjoy nice hot chicken stock in the cup, you will be surprised how much better you are going to feel.

Document Release: 0; Document Last Modified: March 23, 2009

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