the most important food ingredient in a good traditional chicken soup is the broth. many of us know that broth is good for us when we are sick, but does anyone know why? and did you know that the broth you are drinking is probably use less if it's not homemade? let me elaborate by taking some cues from "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" by Sally Fallon.
'Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.'
she goes on to list other important benefits of bone broth such as protein content (great any time, healthy or sick, but especially when you are ill and not eating a whole lot of protein rich foods) and gelatin which is a proven intestine healer and digestive aid. It is important to note that natural gelatin is good for you, but commerically produced gelatin can contain MSG which could be bad for those with sensitivities.
there are side benefits of drinking a warm broth as well when you are sick. first, you are taking in fluids. secondly the steam from the stock will open your sinuses, and some say that the sodium in it will raise your blood pressure a little and help you have a bit of energy.
stock can be made from chicken, beef, fish or game bones and tissue. i will briefly outline how i made chicken stock (according to the Nourishing Traditions recipe):
roast a whole chicken, let cool
take most of the meat off carcass, reserve for soup or sandwiches, etc
place carcass and any giblets that may have been included in the chicken in a stock pot with 4 quarts of water
add 2 tablespoons of vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
let stand 30 to 60 minutes, then bring to a boil removing 'scum' as it floats to the top. reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6-24 hours. the longer you cook the stock the richer and more flavorful it will be. about 10 min before finishing the stock, add 1 bunch chopped parsley (this will impart additional mineral ions to the broth)
remove carcass and vegetables with a slotted spoon. pour the stock through a fine strainer into a pot or large bowl to further remove left over 'stuff'.
pour stock into jars or plastic freezer containers. let cool, then strain off the fat. clear stock will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer.
so there you have it, my method for making a tasty, nutritious, healing meat stock. the vitamins and minerals that are readily available in the liquid are good anytime of year but especially when you are feeling like you want to die :)
chicken soup: good for the soul and good for your health!