Chicken soup may well be the ultimate comfort food. Its soothing aroma and rich flavor bring back memories of Mom or Grandma lovingly stirring the pot in the kitchen.
You might be surprised to learn that the Chinese eat more chicken soup than any other culture.
Chicken soup is firmly entrenched as a traditional food in Ashkenazi Jewish culture, which has spanned the globe as Jews migrated worldwide. And of course, chicken soup plays a central role in the celebration of Passover.
This savory soup is also considered a peasant food since it can be frugally whipped up from parts of the fowl that are not necessarily meaty but contain intense flavors, such as the neck, back, wings and bones. After the meat of a whole chicken has been used for one prime meal, the carcass can be transformed into an equally sumptuous and satisfying soup.
Is Chicken Soup Jewish Penicillin?
The scientific verdict is still out on this question. It certainly seems to help those with colds and congestion, but it might not necessarily be the best choice for an upset stomach unless it is fat-free.
Some studies seem to indicate definite healing properties of chicken soup, while others report that any hot soup can produce the same result. Doctors seem to agree that a hot, savory broth helps open nasal passages and soothe the throat for a period of up to half an hour. Sipping soup through a straw does not produce the same beneficial result as consuming the hot soup with a spoon. Clearly, the vapor and aroma are important factors.
Clear soups provide necessary sustenance and hydration while helping to stimulate the appetite. Certainly, there is also an emotional factor involved. Memories of home, being pampered by Mom with soup as a child, or just the warm feeling of the hot soup in the stomach strongly come into play. Attention, caring, and love are good medicine, and they are a strong component of making soup for someone who is feeling under the weather. It might even be good for the soul, as the famous book says.
What Kind of Chicken Soup to Make?
Any kind of chicken soup will do—clear broth, chicken noodle, chicken with rice, chicken vegetable, even cream of chicken. You get the idea—the word "chicken" has to be in the name for the magic of healing if you are to believe this cultural phenomenon. You'll find everything you ever wanted to know about chicken soup here.
Cookbooks on Chicken Soup
Malesker MA, Callahan-lyon P, Ireland B, Irwin RS. Pharmacologic and Nonpharmacologic Treatment for Acute Cough Associated With the Common Cold: CHEST Expert Panel Report. Chest. 2017;152(5):1021-1037. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2017.08.009
Singh M, Singh M, Jaiswal N, Chauhan A. Heated, humidified air for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;8:CD001728. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001728.pub6