It’s the time of year when sniffles and coughs come upon us and we turn to our favorite home remedy for relief. Chicken soup is my therapy of choice when I’m feeling unwell. The aroma soothes the nasal cavity; the broth slides gently down a scratchy throat; and the mushy vegetables rest gently on the innards.
Years ago, I found a recipe in one of those spiral bound cookbooks that churches and clubs assemble to raise money for their organizations. The friend selling the book bragged on the chicken soup, though the recipe scared me off when I saw it had an entire page of ingredients—16 in all—but, at least, it didn’t call for a live chicken.
I bought the book for $4.25 (it was the seventies), and made a pot of soup. Though it didn’t require live poultry, it did call for frozen noodles—no substitutes! Such a delicacy was hard to find in a small, Ozark town back then; I had to go to three stores. Another required ingredient was Spice Island’s Beau Monde seasoning. When I smelled it for the first time, I was delighted by the aroma. Hmm…could this possibly be the therapeutic ingredient?
I finally decided it was neither the ingredients nor the aroma that gives chicken soup it’s healing properties. It’s l-o-v-e. It’s the TLC. Chicken soup ladled up by loving hands is powerful medicine. It’s all in the delivery. One bowlful and Ka-pow! You’re on the road to recovery.
Recently I read about a study at Nebraska Medical Center. They found that Grandma’s chicken soup–though not a cure–did defend the body against inflammation and soothed the nasal passages. Even commercial brands worked in the experiment, with the exception of chicken-flavored ramen noodles. Researchers even gave some credence to my TLC theory, when they credited the “healing atmosphere surrounding the serving of chicken soup.”
This recipe makes enough soup to get an entire family through the flu season and it freezes well in case you want some on hand the next time you sneeze. For those bothered by the time or cost involved in making the soup, Barnes-Jewish Hospital is offering community flu shots free and administered with TLC at these locations.
Note: If you are under the weather this week, you might enjoy reading my humorous account of the healing power of chicken soup here.