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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Chicken soup for colds and flu

Saturday, May 21, 2016
chicken soup cold flu immunityWe all have our own favourite ‘flu busters’, remedies we keep on hand to help as soon as a winter viral infection becomes evident. I’d like to suggest an extra tool for your kit: chicken soup.

Yes, really. Chicken soup has such a strong reputation in easing cold symptoms that medical researchers with the University of Nebraska Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine decided to prepare a pot of their grandmother’s traditional recipe chicken soup and assess the effects of this renowned folk remedy on immune cells. The results of their investigation, including the recipe, became an academic article published in Chest, a peer-reviewed scientific journal

They weren’t the first. Other researchers thought the power of chicken soup might have been the heat of the liquid; but no, chicken soup came out a winner in that study too. The journal of the Canadian Medical Association suggested that chicken soup was so useful it should be classified as an essential drug. Even the prestigious New York Times devoted column space to the science of chicken soup. 

It turns out that chicken soup affects the activity of neutrophils. These are the prolific white blood cells attracted to a site of infection (in the case of a cold, your lungs and nose), destroying invading microbes and inciting the outpouring of mucus, phlegm and snot that helps make you miserable. Chicken soup moderates their activity so your symptoms are reduced.

It’s an easy and thrifty cold remedy for you to create too. First, pick up a whole fresh chicken. Organic if possible please; they’re chilled with air rather than a chlorinated icy bath so you’ll get more flavour-ful and less waterlogged chicken meat.

A slow cooker is ideal for this process, but not compulsory. Roast the chicken in the oven or slow cooker first, after rubbing with olive oil and salt. Remove the meat for lunches, and put the carcass and any cooking liquid back in the pot with a roughly chopped onion, a stalk of celery, a large carrot, and some bay leaves, plus enough water to cover. 
Bring the water to a slow simmer (or if you’re using the slow cooker, set it to cook at low for 6-8 hours).The longer you can brew this healing liquid, the more dense the flavour will be. 

Enjoy the heavenly aroma filling your kitchen. Then strain the liquid through a colander to remove any solid particles. You can enjoy it straight away or freeze in portion sizes for future chicken soup or flu-busting emergencies.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy 'How to Recover Faster From That Cold' 

Image credit: Chicken by Shanblan via MorgueFile

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