Your grandmother was right…chicken soup is one of the best medicines when you are sick. In fact, you might want to consider gathering ingredients for homemade chicken soup before reaching for that over-the-counter cold medicine. Soup made from whole chickens is rich in carnosine, which has been shown to inhibit damage from viruses in the body, including H1N1! Beyond this, does't it just feel good to sip on a warm, brothy soup when you are under the weather?
I've created a chicken soup recipe with even more immune-boosting ingredients, such as the herb astragalus. You can find it at your local herb store or in the bulk herb section of your local health food store. You can even order it online. I crave astragalus in the winter time. If I ever feel the inkling of a cold or flu I start taking the tincture a few times a day.
I've also added plenty of fresh ginger, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and some red chili flakes. Did you know that both the astragalus and shiitake mushrooms stimulate natural killer cells, whose job is to directly attack viruses and harmful bacteria? The ginger and chili flakes give the soup some heat to stimulate the sinuses to drain. Ginger is also a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and is an amazing anti-inflammatory herb. We use it to make healing root teas often at this time of year. You can read more about the benefits of ginger and shiitake mushrooms in this post.
Super Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup
This is one of my favorite soups to make during cold and flu season. Feel free to add any vegetables you prefer. Diced yams or winter squash are an excellent addition, so are finely chopped hot peppers. You can also replace the napa cabbage with either green or savoy cabbage. Tip: Use 16 cups of water for a 4- to 5-pound chicken or 12 cups of water for a 3- to 4-pound chicken.
1 whole organic chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
16 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 to 5 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 whole head garlic, cut in half cross-wise
2 to 3 inches fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons dried astragalus
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 to 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
4 to 5 cups sliced napa cabbage
1 cup chopped cilantro
To start making the soup, add all ingredients for the broth into an 8-quart stockpot, cover, and simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours on low heat.
Place a large colander over another 8-quart pot or large stainless steel bowl. Pour the broth through it to strain out the chicken and vegetables. Place the pot of broth back on the stove. Place the chicken onto a plate to cool. Bring the broth to a boil, add the all of the ingredients for the soup except the napa cabbage and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, pull all of the meat from the chicken and cut into smaller pieces. Add the chicken to the soup. Once the vegetables are tender, turn off the heat and add the chopped cabbage and cilantro. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if desired.
Yield: about 12 servings
|That's astragalus in the jar and measuring spoon on the left.|
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