Chicken soup has been used as a folk remedy for respiratory diseases for a long time. Scientific exploration of this claim began and continues in the year 2000. Wikipedia reports: “Chicken soup has long been promoted as a form of folk medicine to treat symptoms of the common cold and related conditions. In 2000, scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha studied the effect of chicken soup in the inflammatory response in vitro. They found that some components of chicken soup inhibit neutrophil migration, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary relief of disease symptoms. However, since these results were obtained from purified cells (and applied directly), the dilute soup Live effect is debatable. The New York Times reviewed the study from the University of Nebraska, among others, in 2007 and concluded that “none of the research is conclusive and it is not known whether the changes measured in the laboratory really have a significant effect in people with symptoms of a cold”..”1
Chicken soup is one of my favorite things to cook. The recipe below is intended to make one large pot of soup. It’s a to live recipe in the sense that the basic format remains the same, but I will often rotate ingredients in or out of it. When you’re craving more green vegetables, you’ll likely add bok choi or zuccini. Sometimes I add fingerling or yukon-gold potatoes. I often make a separate wild rice mix and add it to the finished product. Part of the fun of cooking this soup for me is the experimental factor.
One major way that I vary the recipe is which Chinese herbs I choose to include in the soup. The varieties have to do with the ends I am trying to achieve with the formula. It takes some skill to pull this off without making the soup inedible due to the strong flavors of the Chinese herbs. Here are some simple herbal formulas you can experiment with:
Immune Boost: huang qi (astragalus root) 30g, fang feng (ledebouriella root) 10g, bai zhu (atractylodis macrocephalae) 10 g (do not use when you are already sick!)
Qi Increase: huang qi (astragalus root) 30g, Dang Shen (codonopsis root) 30g, bai zhu (atractylodis macrocephalae) 10 g (do not use when you are already sick!)
Blood Builder: gou qi zi (Goji berry, Chinese goji berry) 30g, hong zao (jujube date) 15 pieces, long yan rou (longan fruit) 15 pieces, dangui tou (Chinese angelica root head) 1 piece
Pulmonary Yin emptying (dry cough): bai he (lily bulb) 30g, mai men dong (tuber ophiopogonis japonici) 15g, jing-jie (Herba Seu Flos Schizonepetae Tenuifoliae) 15g
Insomnia: suan zao ren (zizyphus seed) 15g, Wu Wei Zi (Schizzandra berry) 15g, He Huan Pi (mimosa tree bark) 10g, Bai Zi Ren (biota seeds) 10g
These are just a few examples… there are so many more possibilities! You will need to spend some time finding a reliable source of good quality Chinese herbs to purchase and use in your soups. In the recipe below.
1 whole 5-6 pound chicken
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2-3 large leeks, halved and thickly sliced
2 bunches of green onions, chopped
2-3 large shallots, chopped
1 head of garlic, thickly sliced
1 bunch celery, chopped
8-10 medium carrots, chopped
6 medium parsnips, chopped
3- to 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, 1/2 thickly sliced with skin on, 1/2 peeled and julienned
2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence, crushed in a mortar with pestle
Chinese herbs (as above), washed and soaked
2 boxes of Organic Chicken Broth
1.5 pounds shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup tamari sauce
3 tablespoons of mirin
Wash and soak the Chinese herbal formula for 30 minutes. Wash and chop and/or peel an onion and a shallot. Chop half the garlic, half the celery, half the carrots, half the parsnips, and half the ginger. Remove the Shiitake stems and chop the stems (they are used for the broth). Remove the root part of the leeks and wash them. Remove the root and white parts of the green onions, wash and chop. Add all of these vegetables to a large soup pot (at least 6 quarts or larger). Remove the giblets from the chicken. Rinse chicken well under cold running water. Place the chicken in the pot on top of the Chinese herb and vegetable broth. Add water to cover the chicken or to 1 inch below the top of the pot. Place pot over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium-low (enough to maintain a gentle simmer). Boil for 30-40 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F (measured with a meat thermometer). While it is boiling, use a large spoon to skim the surface of the grayish foam that collects. Carefully remove chicken from pot and place on cutting board, let cool. Turn the stove down to a simmer and allow the broth to simmer. Remove skin from chicken and discard. Remove meat from bones and carcass and place in a Pyrex container with a tight-fitting lid for refrigerator storage. Break up the bones and carcass and return them to the boiling broth. Simmer for an additional 40-60 minutes.
While the broth simmers, wash, peel and/or chop and/or slice the remaining vegetables. Place the shiitakes and green onions in a bowl and the rest of the vegetables in a larger bowl, set aside. Take to the pot on the fire and strain the broth. Discard the remains of the vegetable, herb, bone and carcass broth. Add vegetables and herbes de Provence to the pot and to the broth over them. Add Mirin and chicken broth (from the containers) to bring the volume back to the top of the pot. Return to burner and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and boil for about 25 minutes. Remove pot from heat, uncovered. Add mushrooms, green onions, and tamari and serve. Before refrigerating, allow the soup to cool for at least 30 minutes. For each serving, add chicken meat from the separate container to taste.