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Health and wellbeing | 19.05.2014

Easy homemade chicken soup for body and soul

Soup is what makes winter bearable for me. I’m a summer person and I could easily live on a tropical island sipping cocktails for the rest of my life and never see another winter.

I used to find winter depressing until I decided to embrace the good things about it: the cosy warmth and glow of a fire, cool beanies, beautiful boots and soup.

The mother of all soups in my opinion is homemade chicken soup made from scratch with a whole organic chicken. (Sorry vegos).

It’s easy to make, it’s in another taste universe to soup made with stock cubes alone and it’s an amazing health tonic for body and soul.

Hey – chicken soup for the soul. Sounds like a great book title.

 

A brief history of soup

Human beings have been chowing down on soup for thousands of years. In fact, the history of soup is as old as the history of cooking and soups form an integral part of every one of the world’s great cuisines.

Evidence suggests the first soup appreciators existed around 5000 BC, when advances in the design of ceramic vessels enabled them to hold hot liquids.

Soup has evolved according to local ingredients and tastes. New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese won ton, grandma’s chicken noodle soup…

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting." - Abraham Maslow

The importance of real stock

The best soup with the richest, most satisfying flavour and the greatest health benefits is made on real stock, or bone broth. Making a soup without real stock is like listening to a rock band without a rhythm section. It’s just not as satisfying.

Properly prepared meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to digest. Adding apple cider vinegar during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.

Making chicken soup with real stock enhances digestion because the stock supplies hydrophilic colloids to the diet, which attract liquids. Most cooked foods are hydrophobic, meaning they repel liquids. The proteinaceous gelatine in meat broths is hydrophilic, which means it attracts digestive juices to the surface of cooked chicken, veggies, noodles or whatever foods you add to your soup.

It’s the same principle as jelly — the gelatine attracts water to form the dessert.

Health benefits of homemade chicken soup

In folklore, rich chicken broth is known as Jewish penicillin and is a valued flu remedy.

Chicken soup made with bone broth contains valuable minerals in a form your body can easily absorb and use, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals.

Real chicken soup made with a whole chicken also inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses, for example, and fights inflammation, courtesy of anti-inflammatory amino acids such as arginine.

And of course, if you come down with any lurgies in winter, being brought a bowl of steaming hot homemade chicken soup made with love with real stock is certainly good for the soul, as well as the body.

Easy homemade chicken soup

1. Grab an organic chook, plonk it in a big stock pot and cover it with filtered or purified water.

2. Add a dash of salt, a splash of apple cider vinegar and some roughly chopped onions, carrot and celery.

3. Bring it to the boil then let it simmer for four to eight hours (depending on how soon you want the soup).

4. Place a colander inside a large saucepan in the sink and pour the whole lot in. The saucepan underneath will catch the stock while the chicken and veggies will be caught in the colander. This is your stock. The longer you simmer it, the more nutritious it will be — up to 48 hours is good.

5. To make the soup, sauté some onions, five big cloves of fresh crushed garlic, three cups of chopped veggies of your choice (celery, carrot and corn are good) in a dollop of butter in a large saucepan. (You can use the veggies from the stock but they’ll be pretty mushy).

6. Add two Massel chicken stock cubes (this brand is my favourite as it’s gluten-free and doesn’t contain any trans fats or MSG), a teaspoon of Vegemite (it adds a flavour boost), a handful of fresh thyme and a squeeze of lemon juice.

7. While the veggies cook, remove all the chicken flesh from the carcass.

8. Once the veggies have softened, pour in the super-nutritious amazing stock and bring to the boil, then stir the chicken flesh in and heat through (you don’t want to overcook the chicken).

9. If you’re a noodle fan like me, add noodles of your choice. Egg noodles work really well but I suggest cooking them separately and adding them to a bowl rather than the soup pot as they will soak up all the liquid and turn your soup into sludge if they're left in there for too long.

10. To finish, season with salt and pepper to your liking, sprinkle a few sprigs of fresh parsley on top and voila! Eat some immediately (you won’t be able to resist) and freeze some in containers ready for a spur of the moment healthy dinner or to serve to friends and family who come down with a cold or flu over winter.

Enjoy!

Do you have a favourite soup recipe you would like to share with us?

@bymukti

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