….Of course you all know what I am talking about here, don’t you?-Yes! Chicken Soup!….
When I lived at home, my Mother would often ask me what to cook for dinner, and my Mum is a great cook, so I could have said anything really, but I always wanted chicken soup! Every Family has it’s own version-and no, you don’t have to be Jewish to eat it, make it, or like it! Our Family’s method is to boil up the chicken carcass left over from a roast dinner. My Mother’s freezer would always contain several of them, and turkey bones too. Some people make stock this way but we also add the giblets, maybe some extra chicken pieces, and lots of assorted vegetables-whatever’s in the fridge really. After two hours the pot of broth would be de-boned and left to sit until dinner time when Mum would make dumplings-our equivalent of matzos.
Chicken soup is just about the most nourishing, warming, calming bowl of yumminess you can have when you’re feeling poorly. It’s something that since I’ve had this bout of pseudo pneumonia, I have eaten every single day. It’s also very light on the stomach, and naturally Gluten Free, so in my book, perfect! And it’s not called Jewish Penicillin for a joke. There is so much documented through history, and particularly recently, where doctors and scientists alike have tried to find out just what it is about chicken soup that gives it it’s healing properties.
Some say that the steam rising from the bowl when you eat it is the real benefit. But of course. Sipping the hot soup and breathing in the steam helps clear up congestion. Therefore it seems a very true fact that a 12th century Egyptian Jewish physician, Moses Maimonides first prescribed chicken soup as a cold and asthma remedy. In more recent years, Irwin Ziment, a pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA School for Medicine, has said chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines. For example, an amino acid, cysteine, released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems.
Now, I’ve been taking another ‘cysteine’-carbosisteine, via cough medicine, for 5 weeks, and it really does help thin the mucus.
So how does a bowl of the above ingredients contribute to us feeling better? Many of these vegetables and herbs are well documented for their health benefits anyway, vitamins, fibres, anti inflammatories-and of course, the fresher, the better and even better still, home grown or organic! Some people add spices to their boiling pot-the usual ones that are added are garlic and pepper and these in themselves are ancient treatments for respiratory diseases. They also work in the same way as modern cough medicines, thinning mucus and making breathing easier.
Another theory, put forth in the 1990’s by Stephen Rennard– chief doctor of pulmonary medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is that chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory. The soup, he says, keeps a check on inflammatory white blood cells (neutrophils). Cold symptoms, such as coughs and congestion, are often caused by inflammation produced when neutrophils migrate to the bronchial tubes and accumulate there. Therefore, according to science, Chicken Soup really is a bowl of nature’s Penicillin.
And it’s not just Jewish Penicillin at that. So many cultures make their own versions of a healing chicken broth soup: the Thais, the Amish, the Lithuanians, the Colombians, the Jamaicans. I’ve already said how my Family make our own version of chicken broth soup.
And this is a bowl of my own. I made it with what I had in the fridge-chicken pieces, carrots, onion, a leek, a potato and some turkey bones boiled away in it.
But OK, while chicken soup isn’t an exact total cure for a cold, it really does help alleviate some of the annoying symptoms that come with it. And, if nothing else, it is definitely a delicious, comforting meal that helps keep your body fuelled and importantly, hydrated.
….And that is in fact what is on my healing lunch menu for today! Try it!…