We’ve all heard it a million times. “I’m getting sick. I need some chicken soup.” It’s not just popular in America either. Most cultures have some version of soup that has the same lore about it’s curative properties including Vietnamese pho, Brazil’s canja, and Korea’s baeksuk.
But why do we prescribe this home remedy for colds? There have been countless studies done on how and why chicken soup affects colds and there are a lot of theories such as the sodium relieves sore throats much like gargling salt water, the steam inhaled from a hot bowl of soup relieves congestion, and that soup has anti-inflammatory properties due to the ingredients used to make it.
Chicken soup, when made with chicken bones and loads of vegetables, does contain a number of vitamins and minerals that are good for you all the time, not just when you are sick. When bone stock is made, the minerals leach from the bones and vegetables into the broth resulting in a potion packed with potassium, phosphorous, calcium, iron and more. That stock is then used to make soup with even more vegetables and protein, giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal, regenerate and fight the illness.
Another benefit of stock is that nutrients in the liquid are very easy to digest and absorb, reducing the work your body has to do to use them. When you are sick your body is already working overtime fighting the illness so anything you can do to make things easier for it will help you recover faster.
Unfortunately store bought chicken soup and chicken stock most likely have very little of the nutrients our grandmothers set out to give us when they made chicken soup from scratch. So cracking open a can of Campbell’s probably won’t cure your cold. Keeping a supply of bone stock on hand and drinking a little every day as preventive medicine is a great way to prevent illness. Having stock available will also come in handy when you do get sick so you don’t turn to a canned alternative.
The first time I made bone stock I was worried that it would be hard or that I would mess it up. Little did I know that it’s probably the easiest thing to cook and it’s nearly impossible to screw up. A little more of this, a little less of that – it doesn’t really matter. Throw in whatever you have and simmer away. The recipe below will get you started. As you get more comfortable with making stock you can add ingredients to give it your own signature. Just do your body a favor and skip the noodles to avoid gluten.
Recipe: Chicken Bone Stock
- 2 pounds chicken bones and meat scraps
- 2 onions, quartered
- 4 carrots, cut into large pieces
- 4 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1/2 cup wine or apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tbsp course Himalayan salt
- fresh herbs, optional (whatever you have on hand such as thyme, oregano
- Put everything in a stock pot and fill with water until covered.
- Bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer covered for 4-6 hours.
- Check periodically and add water as needed.
- Strain the broth through a colander to remove the solids. You can use cheesecloth if you want to get the tiny bits too but I leave those in.
- Let the broth cool to room temperature.
- Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Skim the fat off the top and save it to use when cooking.
- Use the broth rather than plain water to make vegetables, make soup or just enjoy a cup of delicious broth each day to get a healthy dose of nutrients.