The health benefits of chicken soup

Many of us will be fortunate enough to remember our mothers making us chicken soup when we were home sick on a cold winters day. As a deliciously soothing comfort food, nothing else comes close. But can such a broth actually possess health benefits? Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD at the University of Nebraska Medical Center thinks so: "Although it isn't a cure for the common cold, the proof is in the pudding that it does indeed provide relief from the symptoms. All of the research agrees that soup helps to break up congestion and eases the flow of nasal secretions. Chicken soup also inhibits the inflammatory response causing sore throats."  Read more

 Five reasons to eat chicken soup when you’re sick:

  1. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine. It thins out the mucous in the lungs making it easier to cough out.
  2. During times of infection, mucus can thicken into a moist, nutrient-rich environment that encourages growth of viruses and bacteria. Hot chicken soup vapors have been proven more effective than hot water vapors in cleaning the gunky mucus out of your nose.
  3. Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this into vitamin A, which helps prevent and fight off infections by enhancing the actions of white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
  4. Onion, garlic and ginger are powerful immune-supportive spices. Onions contain quercetin, a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. The active ingredient allicin in freshly crushed garlic works like a natural antibiotic. The major active ingredients in ginger are terpenes and oleoresin, which have antiseptic, and lymph-cleansing properties and also help improve circulation.
  5. Snuggling up and sipping on warm, chicken soup when you’re feeling sick can really lift your mood and help you feel better. This may actually be the most healing property of all!

You don’t have to be sick to enjoy chicken soup. Try the following recipe, make it in bulk; share some and freeze the rest for a rainy day.

Chicken Soup

1 whole chicken*

4 carrots

4 celery stalks

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 cm fresh ginger

salt and pepper to taste

Water to cover


Dice the carrots, celery and onion and put in a large soup pot with the chicken. Cover with cold water. Heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken meat falls off of the bones.

Take everything out of the pot. Strain the broth. Pick the meat off of the bones and discard bones. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken meat, carrots, celery and onion to the pot, stir together and serve.

*It's important to make chicken soup using either a whole chicken or pieces of chicken that contain bones. Not only does this improve the flavour, but the bones contain nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and zinc, which can assist your immune cells in fighting off colds and flu.

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Last updated on June 4, 2014