Chicken Soup for the Sneezer’s Soul

By Catharine L. Kaufman a.k.a The Kitchen Shrink

This time of year heralds in crisp autumn nights, misty mornings, a cornucopia of farm fresh fruits and veggies, and the cacophonous sounds of the flu. The other day, to my horror, as I was loading up my groceries on the supermarket conveyor belt, the cashier gushed a wet sneeze and barking cough into her bare hands. If that wasn’t gross enough, she then expectorated “you know what” into the trash can, and in one fell swoop, started scanning my items. Instantly, she was spreading gazillions of germs on my jarred chicken soup, organic oranges and garlic, green tea, and Ester-C vitamins. How ironic that my immune boosting arsenal had been virally contaminated.
I immediately flew into infection damage control mode, and started tossing the rest of the items on the conveyor belt back into my cart. The young, sick girl glared at me as if I had three heads. I simply explained that I had forgotten some hygienic things, like wet wipes and Purrell anti-bacterial hand wash, hint, hint. . .
. She needed to be at home nursing herself back to health, not sharing her sneezes. The trouble is, viruses are hearty, and antibiotics are about as helpful against them as a pair of strappy stiletto Jimmy Choos in a snow storm. That is why you must turn to food, drink and supplements for your immunity defense.
It is important to crank up your consumption of foods packed with vitamins C, D and E. Oranges, pineapple and kiwi are high in Vitamin C, but if citruses are too acidic for your liking, try broccoli, bell peppers and cabbage. Leafy greens give you a shot of Vitamin D, while almonds and sunflower seeds are a good antioxidant source of Vitamin E. Pomegranates, blueberries and green tea are other heavy-hitting antioxidants. Make a powerhouse brew by tossing a chunk of ginger, a splash of lemon juice, some raw organic honey and a smashed garlic clove into your pot of green tea to soothe that raspy throat and steam open those swollen sinuses. Before going to sleep, steep a pot of chamomile tea – a soporific drink that’ll give you some healing ZZZZ’s.
Still one of the best weapons against disease is garlic, bursting with phytochemicals and nutrients including beta-carotene, oleanolic acid, Vitamins B and C, zinc and selenium. Also, the organic strains tout an extra boost of sulphur. Garlic is a first-cousin to the onion, and has been part of the diet of ancient peoples, such as, the Israelites in Egypt and the Greek and Roman soldiers throughout their empires. Sailors and peasants also swore by it. Garlic has been revered throughout history for its antimicrobial (more recently anti-viral) properties – not to mention it odiferous repulsion of sneezing and coughing people, werewolves and vampires. A recent British report championed garlic as a common cold buster – something my Great grandma could’ve told them a century ago. So knock yourself out and dig into a thick chunk of garlic toast.
Also, if you’re feeling a little phlegmy, try laying off the dairy. Immunology gurus claim that when another animal’s protein is consumed, the immune system responds to this foreign body by creating a flow of mucus to protect the delicate nasal and throat linings. If you must have dairy-esque drinks, simply substitute rice or almond drinks for moo milk.
Chicken soup has been a miracle cure for all that ails you since Biblical times. The Ancient Egyptians prescribed the broth as a cure for the common cold, while the 10th century Persian doc Avicenna wrote about its curative powers. My Grandma used to call it, “Jewish penicillin” as a bowl of homemade chicken soup will ease a ticklish throat, open those sinuses and replenish lost fluids from all that sneezing. Truly, it wouldn’t hurt. Stay well, get well, enjoy!

Homemade Chicken Soup
(Use organic ingredients where possible)

1 chicken (5 pounds) cut into pieces
2 whole yellow onions, peeled
3 to 4 quarts of spring water
½ pound of carrots
6 celery stalks cut into 2-inch chunks
1 whole, peeled celery root, halved
4 parsnips peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 fresh parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
4 whole garlic cloves
1 handful of Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or less if your palate is over-sensitive to spicy food)
Add sea salt to taste at the table – if you are not on a sodium restricted diet

In a large soup pot combine all the ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for another half hour.
Strain out the chicken and veggies from the soup. Remove the meat from the bones and return to the soup. Serve steamy with matzo balls.
This soup will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. If fat hardens at the top of the soup, remove and discard.

For my homemade matzo ball recipe, e-mail [email protected]

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