They call it “Jewish penicillin”, but cultures the world over have their own recipes for chicken soup. In my opinion, Koreans do it best with their chicken and ginseng soup, but I would class this as a preventive recipe rather than a therapeutic one. Dude would have to commit to eating an entire Cornish hen stuffed with rice. That’s a little much for someone with the flu, or its often more fatal cousin, the “grippa”.
When someone is sick, you want something relatively bland, but a bit salty, uncomplicated, but packed with nutrition. So first, I’ll give the recipe for a standard western chicken broth.
You will need:
- 1 chicken carcass, major parts and giblets removed
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons of your preferred cooking oil, but best is chicken fat
- 2 liters of water
- Break or cut up the carcass so that all parts of it can get some frying time when you put them in the pot.
- Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the parts.
- On medium heat, melt the fat in the bottom of the pot.
- Put in the carcass parts, and turn them occasionally, so that the fat gets rendered and the bones a bit seared.
- Before it starts to burn, pour on the water.
- Turn the heat up to high, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil.
- When it’s boiling nicely, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for an hour.
- Turn off the heat.
- Fish out the parts and any bones or solid bits floating in it, and put them in a bowl. Set these aside to let them get cool enough to touch.
- When the parts are cool, pick off any meat that you can, and discard the bones and skin.
- Now you can put the broth in containers, and divide the meat between them. When the broth is completely cool, it can be stored in the freezer.
This broth can be used as a basis for chicken soup. All you need to do is add salt to taste, whatever helpful herbs and spices, and short pasta or noodles or greens. I recommend:
- garlic – boosts immunity and helps the body to kill the crud
- onion – does the above and helps clear the ears and sinuses
- ginger – calms the stomach, aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients
- egg – gives a little vitamin D and others that help with healing and recovery
You can add other things, just be mindful of your man’s tastes and ability to deal with some smells may be different when he’s sick than when he’s well. You want to keep things on the mild side.
On cold winter days when everybody in the family or your group of friends needs some warmth and comfort, you can make a heartier chicken soup.
Serious Chicken Soup
- a whole chicken, giblets removed, cut into parts
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 4 potatoes, diced
- 2-4 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 dashes of black pepper
- 2 dashes of ginger powder
- 1 dash of sweet or hot paprika or cayenne pepper, depending on your family’s tastes
- the juice of one lemon
- salt to taste
- 2 liters (or more) of water
- Optional: 1 chopped parsnip (I recommend it because it really adds good things to the flavor.)
- Salt and pepper the chicken a little.
- Fry the chicken parts in a bit of cooking oil until it is just beginning to be golden on a couple of sides, and then add the onions and celery.
- Stir-fry them for awhile until the onions are beginning to be a little clear, and then add the garlic and parsley.
- Stir fry for maybe 15-30 seconds more, and then add the water.
- Add the potatoes, parsnip, and carrots lemon juice and seasonings.
- Turn the heat up to high, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil.
- Once it is boiling well, stir a bit more, and then turn the heat to low.
- Cover the pot again, and let it simmer for an hour.
- Fish out the chicken parts, and set them aside to cool. Keep the heat on low for the rest of the soup.
- When the chicken is just cool enough to touch, take the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and skin.
- Put the meat back in the soup, and bring to a boil again.
- Turn the heat back down, and let it simmer for another half hour.
Serve hot, with crackers, good bread, rice dumplings, or greens.
Other good chicken soups:
Yemenite “Legs” Soup
There are as many versions of this as there are Yemenite moms. Basically, for the chicken, you use leg quarters (the leg and thigh) or just the legs, and don’t fish them out. You also may use calf leg stock or broth as part of the liquid. They also use a spice mix called hawayij for soup. It is a kind of special curry mixture. You can find this at many middle eastern stores, or make your own version.
Nigerian Chicken Soup
Again, there are many variations. Generally though, Nigerian chicken soup should be very hot and spicy. Though this may not be pleasant for some people while they’re ill, others at least at some point, may crave very spicy food to help clean their sinuses and lungs, and clear the virus from their blood because of the thermogenic effects of the spices.
For a Nigerian style chicken soup, you want to use the following:
- fennel or anise
- hot paprika, cayenne, or another very hot red pepper powder
- and cloves
…or you could use a shortcut and use Chinese five spices blend plus extra ginger and hot peppers. During the cooking, you can also add a couple of bags of lemongrass herbal tea.
Chicken and Dumplings
This thick, hearty soup with home made dumplings is a favorite southern U.S. comfort food. You basically season your homemade chicken broth to your taste, and then make dumplings from a standard biscuit dough.
The Sunday (fancy) version of this is a soup made with the whole chicken’s meat and maybe just onions, salt, pepper, and a bit of paprika to season it. It’s simple but delicious.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
This is more of a meal that includes chicken soup. It is Chinese Singaporean, but it is made almost everywhere in Asia in a variety of ways. You basically stuff a chicken with ginger, lemon or lemongrass, scallions or spring onions, and herbs according to your regional style, boil it, and use the fat and some of the broth to make the rice. The broth that is left, you use for soup. These are served with the chicken and some ginger sauce and chili sauce on the side.
If you don’t have a lot of time, you can use certain shortcuts to make a reasonably good chicken soup. It won’t be Grandma level good, but it’ll be pretty good. You just have to add a little flair, and he might not notice that you did not slave for hours over a hot stove.
For starters, you have to figure out how to acquire the world’s best chicken soup powders. They are the best, each for different reasons.
Mivina “chicken condiment”, a product of the Ukraine. It is a sort of chicken soup base with vegetables and spices that suit the Eastern European taste. Some single guys this side of the Atlantic put this in almost everything. It’s like they use it instead of salt. Just a warning, it does contain a bit of MSG. So if your man gets headaches often, it’s not for him.
Shang Wei chicken soup “powder” (actually buds) is a Chinese brand, and extremely tasty on its own. It also has MSG, but supposedly less of it than others. It has a very natural chicken flavor.
Truth is, almost all chicken soup mixes you buy in the store have MSG or something you may not like. So since you will need to add chicken to the cheat anyway, you can do a make-ahead recipe that will give it a similar full flavor and ease of use.
In a jar, mix:
- 1 cup fine sea salt or gray salt
- 1 cup chickpea flour or nutritional yeast flakes (if you can, get the B-12 fortified)
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour or gelatin powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic crystals
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper and white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric (you can use a full teaspoon, but I don’t like mine too yellow)
You can add other spices as you like. Whatever will make the process easier for you. You can also add dried vegetables, just make sure they will cook well in a short time.
Some like to add dried onions, chives, or scallions. I like a bit of ginger. You can also try red miso powder. Be creative. What you want to do is make a sort of “signature” soup base that is somewhat unique, that will help to comfort and heal your man, so that you can make him a hearty chicken soup in an hour or less.
Next, you need to know how to make a mirepoix. This is the French basic vegetable combination for any dish. You just chop and saute some celery, carrots, and onions. Different cuisines have different bases, so if you’ve never done it before, start with the mirepoix before you get too fancy.
For feeding one man for the day, you will need about 4 cups of soup. So use one medium onion, one carrot, and one celery stalk with its leaves. Put the leaves aside after you chop them, and add them at the end.
Then you’re going to slice up a boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh.
For therapeutic chicken soup, trim your vegetables well, and chop your mirepoix finely, because you are going to leave all those good vegetables in. Fry them and the chicken a little until your onions are just starting to be slightly clear.
Then stir your celery leaves in for a few seconds.
Then add 5 cups of water and about 2 heaping teaspoons of your soup mix.
Bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down to medium-low. It only needs to cook for a half hour.
If you want noodles in it, bring it to a boil again, add the noodles, and let that boil again. Then turn it down to medium to let it cook for 10 minutes. Don’t cook it longer than that, or the pasta will be too mushy.
Whenever you roast a chicken, use the bones and carcass to make broth. Put it in containers, and keep it in the freezer.
If you have limited space, reduce your broth to make chicken stock. You can also just press the carcass flat or tear it apart, and put the bones and leftover meat in a bag in the freezer to make broth with later.
Get a mandolin slicer/chopper. This will make your life much easier when making mirepoix and many other things. Don’t get a fancy one. They’re overcomplicated, and don’t really do the job any better than the cheap ones. I have one that I have been using brutally for over 10 years that I got for under $10. It’s still slicing like the day I bought it.
There are so many ways to make chicken soup. It is very good even when stored in the freezer and then reheated, so you can always have some on hand for emergencies.