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Fighting a Cold With Chicken Soup

I’ve heard so many times that eating chicken soup when you have a cold helps you get over it faster.  This chicken soup advice is apparently common knowledge, not just here in the U.S.  I’m not sure if it is the chicken or what people put in the soup that helps to get rid of the cold.

I’ve made variety of chicken soups over the years, but the one that works best for me is my family’s recipe.  Psychological effect, maybe?  I usually make it in a large batch then divide it into small portions and keep them in the refrigerator.   I can make a healthy meal really fast from the small portions.  It takes the same amount as it does to boil water.

Sitting at home with alternating running or stuffy nose, plus sore throat and sneezing, I just had it.  I had hoped my cold would go away by resting, keeping myself warm and drinking a lot of orange juice.  But, it’s doggedly hanging on.  So I decided to make a batch of chicken soup.

Chicken Soup With Spice; The Ingredients:

  • Chicken parts, skin and bone attached.  I prefer drumsticks and thighs.  Bone, skin and dark meat will make the soup sweeter since I don’t use chicken stock for this soup.
  • A couple sticks of Cinnamon
  • One fresh garlic head, crushed and cut to small pieces.
  • Black peppercorn
  • A couple of Star Anise
  • Light soy sauce
  • Dark sweet soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Cooked rice or noodles, optional but the soup tastes better with it.
  • Vegetables of your choice
  • Fresh lime
  • Chili pepper powder
Clockwise from top: cinnamon sticks, fresh garlic, star anise, black peppercorn

Clockwise from top: cinnamon sticks, fresh garlic, star anise, black peppercorn

How to cook:

  • Clean the chicken parts and poke some holes in it with a fork or the tip of a knife.  The chicken will absorb the ingredients better and cook faster.
  • Rub the chicken with dark soy sauce and let sit while you bring water to a boil and prepare other stuff.
  • Put all the spices in the spice bag (that little cotton bag with drawstring) or wrap them up with a couple layers of cheesecloth, tie tightly.  If you prefer to have the spices float around in the pot and take them out later that’s fine too.  Chewing on a piece of cinnamon or star anise is not fun, ergo, the spice bag.
  • Once the water is boiling, put the chicken and spices in.  Bring it back to a boil.
  • Once it is boiling again, add dark soy sauce (this gives a lightly sweet taste and darkens the soup too), oyster sauce (also imparts a lightly sweet taste and darkens the soup slightly) and add some light soy sauce.
  • Skim the foam off.  Take some floating fat out, if you like.  The fat is easier to take out when it’s cold.  I usually scrape the top layer of fat off when I take the soup out of the refrigerator.
  • Simmer for a while.  My timing is when the meat easily comes off the bone.

Tips:

  • Make a large batch at one time to save a lot of time.  After it cools, split into smaller containers for refrigeration.
  • Refrigerate just broth and chicken.  Hold off on your veggies until you’re ready to heat and serve.
  • Taste the liquid after you add the soy sauce.  Make it on the stronger side because you will be adding vegetables and rice or noodles later which will thin the taste out a little.
  • Add leafy vegetables like Bok choi, Swiss chard, watercress, spinach, broccoli, some scallions, celery and bean sprouts.
  • At the end, after you have added everything in and brought the soup to a boil again, briefly.
  • When you have the soup in the serving bowls, then squeeze some fresh lime juice in and sprinkle chili pepper powder on it.  Fried minced garlic sprinkled on top is optional.

And Enjoy…a hot, spicy, medicinal soup.  You may have a runny nose (reaction to the chili pepper) and sweating (from the heat and spice (all spice used in this soup has a warming potential) but you’ll feel better after a couple of doses.  Fresh lime juice is a great source of vitamin C too.

Chicken soup sprinkled with chili pepper and fried minced garlic. I used baby bok choi, Napa cabbage and scallion in this one. My lovely neighbor provided us with the B&B-French spiced liqueur & fine cognac. She said it's good for the cold too.

Chicken soup sprinkled with chili pepper and fried minced garlic. I used rice, baby bok choi, Napa cabbage and scallion in this one. My lovely neighbor provided us with the B&B-French spiced liqueur & fine cognac. She insists it’s good for what ails you too.