The Healing Benefits of Chicken Soup


It turns out January is National Soup Month, which makes sense because we need that kind of nourishment when cold weather and viruses surround us. 

One of my favorite medicinal meals is chicken soup, famous for its healing properties from the days of Hippocrates and Maimonides, the Jewish physician that first wrote about its healing benefits.

Chicken soup has several medical benefits:

1) ANTI-INFLAMMATORY: Chicken broth is rich in carnosine, an amino acid that helps to reduce the flood of cytokines, those inflammatory compounds that contribute to the runny nose, sneezing and cough we get with respiratory infections.  According to several cell-culture studies looking at the activity of our white blood cells, the amino acid, carnosine is the compound with the most potent anti-inflammatory action.

2) ANTI-MICROBIAL: Another benefit of chicken soup comes from the phytonutrient-rich vegetables cooked into the broth: onion, carrot, celery and parsnip. Remember, phytonutrients are those chemical messengers in plants that “talk” to our immune system. I include ample garlic and oregano, both of which have anti-microbial activity.

 3) MUCOLYTIC: Chicken is also rich in the amino acid, cysteine, which thins mucous and helps the cilia, those tiny hairs lining the bronchi and lungs, to move mucous up and out of the lungs.

Chicken soup is obviously hydrating, and the hot broth helps promote mucous drainage. If you can tolerate some extra heat, add a pinch of red chili flakes to further clear your sinuses and lungs!

So let’s get cooking! This weekend is the perfect time to use my recipe to make a big pot of chicken soup. I always make this large batch, so I have plenty to freeze and sip on these cold winter nights ahead!