It’s that time of year again: the time when the outside world begins to turn green (and yellow) and the days (if not the nights) grow warmer. Coats get lighter and hemlines get higher, and we expose our bodies to temperatures that weaken our immune systems to the point that those who aren’t already suffering from allergies (and some unlucky souls who are) find themselves susceptible to the common cold. There’s not a lot you can do for a cold, really. Over the counter drugs can counteract the symptoms, of course, but the one standby folk remedy that’s lasted from generation to generation is a nice, hot, steaming bowl of chicken soup.
Studies have shown that the nutrients in chicken soup help the body combat illness and the steam helps to loosen mucus. Beyond that, it provides much needed hydration and nutrition, and just generally makes you feel good on the inside. My chicken soup recipe starts with a whole chicken, and can be strained and used (without the meat and rice added) in any recipe that calls for chicken broth/stock. In this case, I actually used a chicken raised last year by my best friend Rose on her poultry farm, Emma’s Family Farm. One afternoon last September, Rose taught me the proper/humane way to slaughter and eviscerate chickens, and let me take a couple home to put in my freezer.
Homemade Chicken Soup
- 1 whole chicken
- 5-6 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5-6 celery stalks, chopped
- 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- red pepper flakes
- water to cover
- 1 cup uncooked rice or 2 cups uncooked egg noodles
- 1 lemon
Put chopped vegetables, garlic, and chicken into a large pot. Cover with water and add seasonings as desired. Boil on medium or low heat until chicken is completely cooked — the more the meat is falling off the bone, the better. When cooked, remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the bones. Return the meat to the pot and add rice or noodles. Turn the heat off before the rice or noodles are fully cooked; they’ll finish cooking in the hot broth. Add juice of 1/2 lemon to the soup, serve soup with lemon wedges.