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Archive for the ‘Chicken Recipes’ Category

I have been listening to some lectures by Jack Canfield this week and he tells the story of how he came up with the name “Chicken Soup for the Soul” Jack is a big believer in meditation and had been meditating for three days asking what he believes is the infinite intelligence, source energy or God if you prefer, to help him with a title for his book. He says on the third day he saw a hand come out with the words chicken soup and he thought, “What on earth does that have to do with my book?!”

This voice inside his head said to him, “Well when you were little and you were sick, your Grandmother would always make you chicken soup” He said, “But this is not a book about sick people!” And then he realised;  peoples spirits were sick. The Gulf war had just ended, there had been a recession and people were uncertain. He mulled over “Chicken Soup for the Spirit” and finally rested on what we all now know as “Chicken Soup for the Soul” He says when that title came into his head, he had a shiver up his spine.

My daughter has been quite sick in the past few months and a good friend invited us over for dinner this week and she mentioned that she would make her “Bow Tie Soup” which would make Poppy feel better and it got me thinking. So many cultures around the world have their own version of a chicken soup that is not only nourishing but healing.

Now I was curious, is there any scientific evidence to support this? Or is this an old wives tale?

According to an article in the New York Times, chicken soup may be more effective at treating coughs than over the counter cough medicines. Given the lack of hard science to show that there is any benefit to using cough medicine, this is probably not a hard feat! There was, however a study completed in 2000, by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha who using blood samples from volunteers,  showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. This was interesting for me particularly because currently Poppy’s neutrophil levels are so low she is unable to fight off even the slightest infection.

There is something more to chicken soup and I think Jack Canfield has it in one. We give medicine to our children when they are sick, we give them cuddles, we tuck them up in bed and pick up their snotty tissues but often we are left feeling helpless, like we could somehow do more.

For me, it makes me feel better to cook Poppy nutritious and nurturing food. I am a fan of pureeing lots of veges and slipping them into meatballs, pasta and anything else I can sneak past her observant little tastebuds. For the Jewish, a child’s Bubbe, may make a Chicken Matzo Ball Soup, if you are in Italy, your Nonna would make you a Pastina en Brodo di Pollo, or Pastina in a Chicken Broth. If you are in Asia, a dose of Tom Yum or Tom Ka Gai would knock your illness on its head. It is fascinating that across so many cultures, variations on the same dish have evolved and are given for treatment of the same condition. 

Is this science or is this soul? A warm homemade chicken broth is simple, nutritious and it feeds our soul. Our child feels warmed and cared for. As a parent we feel like we have taken the extra step and nourished our child but the soup has another power. In the act of making, giving and feeding our child, our own soul is nurtured. It helps us to feel like we have done our best. We are helping to make them better away from the powerless feeling we so often have when dealing with doctors and pharmaceuticals. So last night I made up a big batch in the slow cooker and have about 4 litres of it waiting to be frozen and then used in various dishes.

Today it was a simple Chicken Soup with Poached Eggs from one of my favourite books “Cooking with Italian Grandmothers’ by Jessica Theroux , you can buy it here

Chicken Soup with Poached Eggs – adapted from Jesssica Theroux’s Cooking with Italian Grandmothers

First make your stock. I like things to be easy, so I do this in the slow cooker. I do however make the effort to buy a whole organic chicken for making a soup or stock. I think if its going to be for healing, then I want as much goodness as I can, but I know I will get a few good meals from this one.

I remove the breasts and thighs and put these aside for another meal and place the carcass and the wings in the slow cooker. I chop up 2 carrots and two sticks of celery roughly and pop these in too. 1/2 a lemon goes in. Apparently the acid from the lemon pulls the minerals from the chicken bones into the soup.

I set this on a low heat on the slow cooker overnight. I then strained it through a strainer and cooled and froze what I didn’t need for lunch today.

To make the soup for about 4-6 people…..

6 cups Chicken Broth lightly salted

3 cloves whole garlic peeled

4-6 eggs

2 tablespoons parsley or majoram (I used parsley simply because I have it growing outside)

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper

Bring the chicken broth to the boil and add the garlic. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Season to taste and remove the whole garlic cloves from the broth. Crack the eggs into small  bowls and while the broth is at a low simmer, add one egg at a time to the pot. (I must admit, I am not the perfect egg poacher and you can see from my picture, my eggs never end up in a perfect ball, its lucky it doesn’t affect the taste 😉 )

Once all the eggs have been added , place the lid on slightly ajar, be sure the flame is low, otherwise the broth could boil over, disrupting the eggs. If you prefer runny yolks (I do, it was delis having all that yolk burst open into the soup), cook for 3 minutes total. (I actually found I needed a little less than this).

To serve, spoon an egg into each bowl and ladle the broth over. Garnish with freshly chopped herbs, salt and black pepper. There are a number of additives to this dish that are delicious, olive oil, grated cheese and a scattering of sizzling bread crumbs are just a few examples.

This soup was delicious. Just perfect to warm up a winters day.

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