Everybody knows that chicken soup is good for the soul, but studies show that it`s also good for the body. When you catch a cold, your body sends out white blood cells to fight it. These cells, called neutrophils, don`t always stay where they`re needed and their migration causes stuffy noses and coughs. Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have found that something in chicken soup keeps the neutrophils from wandering and lessening their effects on your body.
Researchers at Mount Sinai in Miami also found that chicken soup not only helps clear stuffy noses, but it also improves the effectiveness of your cilia, which are your tiny inner nose hairs, in filtering out anything contagious that you might breathe in.
Neither study isolated what exactly makes chicken soup so effective. Experts agree that it`s probably something in the combination of chicken and vegetables, so don`t skimp on the fresh produce when making your soup.
Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
Roasting pan with rack
Pot or Dutch oven
Unsalted butter, softened
1 chicken, raw
White wine, dry
3 to 6 cloves garlic
4 to 6 stalks celery
Egg noodles, cooked
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Coat a roasting pan and rack with olive oil and place your fresh chicken on the rack, breast up.
Massage the softened butter into the chicken`s skin. Pour 1 cup or so of dry white wine over the chicken. Add enough water to the roasting pan to fill it to about 1/4 inch.
Season the chicken with cracked pepper, kosher salt, rosemary, sage and thyme. Roast the chicken for 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 65° F. Boiling a chicken leaches flavor from the meat. Roasting the chicken and then boiling the carcass takes longer but gives you fresh broth without sacrificing the meat`s flavor.
Take the chicken out of the oven and off the rack and set it on a plate to cool. Leave the juices in the roasting pan. When the chicken is near room temperature, pick it clean, separating the meat into one bowl and the skin and bones into another.
Coat the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven with olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken skin and bones. Cover the bones with at least 6 to 8 cups of water and another cup or so of white wine. Add the drippings from the roasting pan. Skim the fat off the top first, if you prefer.
Peel and roughly chop a parsnip and put it in the pot.
Peel and quarter 1 onion and separate the sections into the pot.
Peel and slice 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, depending on how strong a garlic flavor you prefer.
Wash 2 or 3 stalks of celery, but don`t remove the leaves. Cut the stalks into quarters, crosswise. Toss them into the pot.
Bring the pot to a boil. Lower it to a simmer and let it cook, uncovered, for at least 1 hour.
Strain the broth into another pot and set it back on the stove at a simmer to cook down for another 30 minutes or so. Discard the skin, bones and other solids.
Taste the broth and correct the seasoning, remembering that the flavors will get more intense as it cooks down. If the flavors get too intense, add a little water.
Rinse the first pot and coat the bottom with olive oil.
Peel and chop 1 onion, 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, 2 to 3 stalks of celery and 2 small carrots. Season them with cracked pepper and kosher salt and sauté over medium heat until they soften.
Taste the broth. If it`s cooked down enough, add it to the vegetables. If not, turn the vegetables off until the broth is done.
Add the broth to the vegetables. Shred or chop the chicken meat and add that. Stir in corn and peas to taste. Petit pois peas are excellent in this soup.
Correct the seasoning and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve over hot, wide egg noodles. Keep the noodles separate when storing leftovers or they tend to absorb all of the broth.
The fresher the ingredients, the healthier the soup. The chicken soup lovers at The Backyard Chicken Farmer recommend a home water system like those offered at Angel Springs to ensure that you start with the purest water possible.