Allergy season is in full swing, Flu season is upon us, and Covid season seems never-ending. There is so much information out there that many don’t know what to think or do. As the wife of a physician, I fully appreciate science and modern medicine. Yet, as a mom, I seek more ways to support my family’s health the best way I know how to; through their bellies!
As mothers, so much of our energy is devoted to what we feed our children. Why? Health and human body growth are mostly based on what we put in it. I remember those not-so-jolly days of fevers, doctor’s visits, and antibiotics growing up and more recently with my own kids. What I remember most were my mom’s traditional “Sick Day” chicken soup and my dad’s “Pick-Me-Up” lemon tea.
I remember the feeling of comfort and love when I sat there with my mug in hand. Little did I know that it wasn’t just a tradition, it was the only way my parents knew how to add a nutritional boost to my immune system to complement the prescribed medication.
While researching for the nutritional facts that come with certain foods I stumbled upon a scientific study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center that focuses on the benefits of Chicken soup.
“Chicken soup has long been regarded as a remedy for symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections. As it is likely that the clinical similarity of the diverse infectious processes that can result in “colds” is due to a shared inflammatory response, an effect of chicken soup in mitigating inflammation could account for its attested benefits.”
–Barbara O. Rennard, BA; Ronald F. Ertl, BS; Gail L. Gossman, BS; Richard A. Robbins, MD, FCCP; and Stephen I. Rennard, MD, FCCP
What I love most about this study is the motivation to look at the chemistry or scientific approach to ‘Grandma’s Soup.’ We all have that person in our lives that influenced our views on certain foods and stuffed our mouths with their special recipes. We love them and are thankful for their existence and persistence!
It’s important to understand that while chicken soup and other homemade foods can provide temporary relief they are NOT a substitution to prescribed medication and medical care. Always follow your doctor’s advice!
As most of you know, one of my superpowers at home is COOKING. Part of my passion for cooking comes from the emotion that the first – eyes closed- taste can fulfill. Those who enjoy the blessing and the creation of food understand that all five senses are needed to truly experience the sentiment behind each bite. My soup does all of that. When my kids feel ill the first thing they ask for is “sopita de mama” (mom’s -little-soup). At such a young age you can sense how their emotions are tied to it. They feel all the love and comfort that any mom could give their ailing child, poured in a cup.
It’s my little magic potion!
Below is the recipe for my highly ‘concentrated’ chicken broth. As a tradition, every time my broth is ready I serve everyone in my house a mug or shot glass of it. Comfort in a cup!
“Sick Day” Chicken Soup
- Purchase 1 whole raw chicken and remove the breast with a knife (save for the soup). You can also use the bones of a roasted chicken if that’s all you’ve got.
- In a stockpot or a crockpot, place the whole chicken together with vegetable scraps (Herb stems, pepper stems, unused onions and skins, a garlic head cut in half, carrot tops, etc.) Tip: I usually freeze my scraps and save them for a rainy day.
- Add 1 gallon of water + 2 bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil.
- Lower the temperature and simmer for 3 hours on the stove (in the crockpot for 3-4 hrs on HIGH or overnight on LOW)
- Discard all the solids and season your broth to taste in the same pot.
- Add diced celery, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and/or potatoes.
- Add precooked Sofrito: Sautéed in a separate pan- 1 onion, 1 pepper, 1 head of garlic, and (optional) add 1 envelope of Sazøn Goya for extra color and flavor.
- In the same pan used for sofrito, brown your diced chicken breast and about 8 extra boneless skinless chicken thighs before adding them to the soup. Season them well with adobo or salt and pepper.
- Add 1 whole bunch of minced fresh cilantro and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add less than half a box of spaghetti torn into small bits by hand and cook for 10-15 more minutes.
- Season to taste and enjoy!
1 gallon of water
20 lemons squeezed (around 1 cup of juice)
1 whole peeled ginger root
15 dried eucalyptus leaves (fresh or dried) or fresh mint leaves
½-1 cup of honey (give or take; as much as you need for sweetness)
- Add all ingredients to a stockpot and boil for 10-15 minutes.
- Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Cover with a tea towel.
- Lean forward, lift the tea towel and breathe in the mist.
- Repeat several times.
- Serve yourselves a few cups and drink up while warm.
- Adults ONLY may add a tbsp of rum for better more soothing
- Put it in the fridge and drink cold, or warm it up in the microwave when necessary.