Chicken soup: “Jewish Penicillin” for the common cold

Indeed now you can believe it; it is no longer just “an old wives’ tale,” chicken soup aids in the health and recovery of the common cold and flu! And during these cold winter months, when the sniffles are darn hard to avoid, drinking homemade chicken soup is considered just what the doctor ordered.

Many of us grew up drinking chicken soup—known “comfort food”—and you will no doubt remember mom’s urgency to prepare a pot of this simplest of broths as soon as the sniffles were detected. To the store she hurried to shop for her most common of ingredients, and with her heart on her sleeve marched straight to the kitchen to prepare her most natural of tonics. Into the large pot went a whole chicken, some fresh aromatics, and vitamin-packed vegetables to boot.

This recipe, tasty and easy-down-the-hatch medicine in a soup bowl, is more of an uptown chicken stew, with sautéed carrots (Beta-Carotene and fiber laden) and leeks and mushrooms (such as shitake, which has the ability to reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, and has AHCC that may boost and stimulate the immune system), and roasted fennel and butternut squash—fiber loaded and vitamin-packed: vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and an excellent source of vitamin A.

In the Jewish community food is regarded as an important part of their culture, so cooking for family and friends who may be feeling under the weather is familiar practice. And chicken soup is a very common choice when feeling the onset of a cold or flu. This same preference, chicken soup, fairs popular amongst other cultures as well, simply because it is nourishing as well as delicious.

Because it is often referred to as “Jewish Penicillin,” we are reminded that “one need not be Jewish to benefit from chicken soup.” [Smile..!]

Come; take a comfortable seat at our cozy table. Dinner is served!

Recipe makes enough for 4-hearty servings

STEPS 1 (roasting vegetables):

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2 cups (1-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, 1/2-inch cubed

2 cups carrots, 1/2-inch measured cubed

2 small fennel bulbs, cleaned, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together and evenly spread in a baking sheet; roast for 50-70 minutes—tossing once halfway through for even roasting—or until vegetables are light golden and/or tender when pierced.

While vegetables are roasting begin steps 2

STEPS 2 (cooking chicken):

1/2 tablespoon, each of, olive oil, grape seed oil, butter

3 pounds chicken thighs, with skin and bone-in

15 ounces mushrooms, whites and shitakes

1 generous cup carrots, measured shredded

1 cup celery, measured finely chopped

3 medium-sized leeks, rinsed of dirt, dried, (white parts only) finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon dry thyme

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Ground cayenne to taste

2 bay leaves

1 cup Madeira wine

5 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup uncooked 78. Acini di Pepe like De Cecco (or very small pasta of preference)

  • In a large pot, on the large burner, over medium heat, add oils and chicken and fry until golden-brown; remove and set aside.
  • In the same pot and same heat add vegetables and seasonings and sauté 5 minutes.
  • Add liquids and stir well; arrange chicken back into pot over vegetables and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a low-simmer, and cook for about 1 hour or until chicken is tender when pierced.
  • Remove chicken to a platter, add pasta to the pot of vegetables, cover and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions for time.
  • As pasta cooks, carefully take the chicken off the bone, discarding bones and skin, and keep warm.
  • When the pasta is done add the roasted vegetables and boned chicken, blending well, turn off the heat and serve immediately.

Cook with heart; eat with gusto. Buen Provecho!

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