Sunday, January 20, 2013

Take 2 Bowls and Call Me in the Morning -- Chicken Soup Recipes that are Good for What Ails You or a Friend

These chickens make house calls, so to speak.
With cold and flu season in full force, its good to know chicken soup aka “Jewish penicillin,” is good for what ails you according to both your mother and science. Turns out hot soup not only relieves congestion and helps with hydration but amps up the body’s immune system.

While any hot, broth-based soup will help, chicken soup has an added benefit. Research shows cooked chicken contains a chemical that may help keep bronchial tubes clear.

Most commercial brands of chicken soup have been found to be effective, but to me a bowl of homemade soup is the best medicine. So consider making friends and family who are under the weather one of the prescriptions for soup below. The recipes incorporate cold-fighting ingredients such as:

Red bell pepper, lemon juice, spinach:  Reduce a cold’s duration.
Green, leafy vegetables:  Help fight off infection.
Carrots: Bolster immune system.

Garlic: Combats infections and aids immune system.

Turmeric: Boosts immune system.

Salt: Aids hydration. (A little is good, a lot isn’t.)

Cayenne pepper:  Relieves congestion.

Ginger: Reduces nausea and is said the help rid toxins from the body.

If desired, replace raw chicken with 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (add when shredded chicken is called for). Use homemade or low-sodium store-bought broth.  Serving sizes will vary depending on the appetite of the patient.

Oh, and you don’t have to be sick to enjoy these soups. Multiply recipes for family-size servings.

Get Well Chicken Soup
Serves 3-4

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper  
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbs. grated lemon rind
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 large carrots, chopped
1 medium-large red bell pepper, chopped
2 large zucchinis, chopped
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to turn translucent. Add garlic. Sauté until garlic is beginning to brown. Add cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, lemon rind and chicken broth. Bring to simmer. Lower heat to keep at a simmer. Add chicken breast, cover, and simmer until cooked through. Remove chicken and shred. Return soup to simmer and add chopped vegetables. When vegetables are just tender, add shredded chicken and simmer until vegetables are softened and chicken is heated through. Add lemon juice. Stir well. Taste and correct seasonings.

Chicken and Egg Garlic Lemon Soup
Serves 3-4

6 cups chicken broth
8-10 peeled whole garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 lb. chicken breast
1/2 uncooked orzo or other  very small pasta
6 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks
2 cups chopped spinach or arugula (optional)

Bring broth to a simmer in large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic cloves, salt, pepper, cayenne, ginger and chicken. Cover. Lower heat to keep at simmer. Remove chicken as soon as it is cooked through and shred. Keep cooking garlic until very soft. Let soup cool until safe to handle and puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth. Return to stove and bring to a simmer. Add orzo, cover and simmer until pasta is cooked. Return shredded chicken to pot. Keep at simmer. Beat lemon juice and egg yolks together until combined. Slowly drizzle into soup while stirring soup at the same time. Stir in greens, if using. Simmer until wilted. Stir. Taste and correct seasonings.

A version of this post first appeared as an article in the j. weekly.
Need a vegetarian soup? See my not-chicken soup recipe.

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