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Food Medicine: Playing Chicken With Your Cold

It’s that time of year… to sniffle, sneeze, wipe and wheeze. If you’re fighting the gunk of the week (like everyone at my house!) you’ll love this simple, delicious, and phlegm-clearing chicken soup.

First, you’ll need to roast a chicken. This part is easy. I love the chickens I get from Kevin Veinotte at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, but if you can’t get one from him try the organic chicken from the health food store or, in a pinch, the natural chicken from the supermarket (conventional chicken does not have as high a nutrition or medicinal value, so this is not the time to pinch pennies).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, rinse your chicken off, and toss some garlic cloves, chopped onion, and your favourite herbs in the body cavity. Rub the outside with a little extra virgin olive oil and salt, and roast for 2-3 hours or until the meat in the thickest part of the bird is thoroughly cooked. I sometimes underroast my chicken, eat the outside meat, then re-cook any meat that is still pink, but I wouldn’t recommend that method to an inexperienced cook or to be done with a grocery store chicken.

After the bird has cooled down, strip the meat off the carcass and put everything that isn’t edible (bones, skin, etc) into a stock pot or crock pot. Add chopped onion, as much garlic as you can spare, a healthy pinch of salt, and some pieces of carrot and celery if you have them. Add water until everything is just barely covered, then add a quarter cup of vinegar. I like Boates brand apple cider vinegar (local and organic), but generic white vinegar will do the trick–the point of this step is to make an acidic environment in the pot, which will then leach calcium and other minerals from the bones and infuse them into the broth.

Simmer the mixture for 6-8 hours. Check every 1/2 hour to hour and skim off any foam that rises to the top. At the end of the simmering time remove the bones and big chunks, then strain the broth through cheesecloth (I get mine at the dollar store). Chill in the fridge for a few hours, strain off the fat that rises to the top, and you’ve got your stock!

At this point, making chicken soup is dead easy. Simply take your homemade stock, add cooked rice or noodles as your prefer, some shredded chicken, minced garlic, and any other vegetables you like. I usually toss in some chopped carrots and whatever else I have lying around and simmer them in the stock over medium heat for about 20 minutes to cook them through. Fresh parsley makes a great addition if you have it, and we also love to add a shot of sinus-blasting hot sauce.

Not only will this soup make you feel better, it will actually taste like love. If you have lots of leftovers, toss them in the freezer for your next cold! (Or bring them to my house. I never say no to homemade soup.)

2 Responses to “Food Medicine: Playing Chicken With Your Cold”

  1. meredith Says:

    You’re right. This really does the trick. I also add freshly grated ginger. I have never added vinegar so will try this for my next batch. I am still working on a large batch of turkey soup — a stand-in for this popular favourite, and great when you need a little pick-me-up with some homemade bagel or pita crisps. I can hardly wait for the next delectable food suggestion.

  2. Elisabeth Says:

    Thanks, M! I have a big hunk of ginger in the fridge waiting for? Think I’ll use it for this.

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