Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Chicken Soup – It Really Is Jewish Penicillin

Flu, cold, cough, sinusitis, bronchitis – forget the pills and potions, nasal sprays, decongestants and antibiotics, just have a bowl of steaming chicken soup.

It’s not a joke, a group of eminent doctors in Israel have asked the World Health Organisation to add chicken soup to its ’List of Essential Drugs’. Naturally, they’re not talking about that awful stuff that comes out of packets or cans but real chicken soup made from chicken, vegetables and water. Nothing could be simpler or better nutritional value for money as well as bringing instant relief from the discomfort caused by these unpleasant upper respiratory infections.

The traditional Jewish penicillin, served by generations of Jewish mothers throughout the world as a nourishing, healing and restoring dish, is much more than old wives tales and folk lore.

The soup contains a special sulphur compound, cystine, which really does protect against throat and chest infections. The protein is very easily absorbed so it’s the perfect invalid food, ideal when you’re recovering from infection, for reduced immunity, chronic fatigue and even sexual problems which can all be aggravated by poor protein absorption.

Cystine also helps by thinning mucous which collects in the nose, sinuses and lungs and research has proved that this action makes it easier for the body to get rid of the thinner mucous. This makes chicken soup ideal for asthmatics too.

Don’t wait till you get ill to use this delicious recipe, but make sure that chicken soup is a regular feature of your home cooking. One bowl of this easy to make recipe is just bursting with nutrients that are great for all round health and also boost your natural resistance. At only 240 calories for a huge steaming bowlful you’ll get almost half your day’s protein, a quarter of your heart-protective potassium, a fifth of the cancer-protecting selenium (a trace mineral which is seriously deficient in most people’s diets), a third of your daily needs of vitamin B6 (great for PMS), and an important contribution of other B vitamins.

On a less serious note but just as valuable to those that need it, a late night bowl of steaming chicken soup after a night on the tiles provides natural enzymes which together with the other vital nutrients make it Nature’s miracle cure for hangovers.

The Recipe
This wonderful soup is very economic. You can use the remains of a roast chicken, but discard the skin – remove any meat, cut into small pieces and break up the carcase – or a small fresh chicken cut into joints.

You’ll also need:
One large peeled finely chopped onion
One large sliced carrot
One large sliced leek
Two cloves chopped garlic
One tablespoon olive oil
Three pints water
One bay leaf
Fresh ground black pepper
One tablespoon pot (pearl) barley

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan heat the oil, add the onion, carrot, leek and garlic and stir briskly for two or three minutes.

Add the water, bay leaf, pepper, barley and chicken, bring to the boil then simmer gently for one and a half hours, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.

Remove the bones and if the soup looks at all fatty leave to cool, refrigerate overnight so the fat solidifies on the top and can be removed before re-heating.

It takes less than half an hour’s work to prepare and make this soup as you can then leave it to cook itself. If time is a problem why not double up the quantities, cook it at the weekend and freeze half in portion sizes for the rest of the week.

More than ten huge bowls at less than the price of a prescription – great value for money and delicious too.


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