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Jewish Penicillin


Healing chicken soup, often known as ‘Jewish Penicillin’, has a long held tradition as a ‘cure’  for colds and flu and while this may seem like an old wives tale, there is some science behind this.

A study in 2000 found that consuming chicken soup could help reduce upper respiratory inflammation in turn helping you recover from a cold or flu. One of the lead researchers, Stephen Rennard, M.D., FCCP, said the outcomes of the study demonstrate that chicken soup inhibits neutrophil migration to standard stimuli.

The ideal chicken soup will be made by first boiling up the chicken bones to make the most of this nutritional flu busting food.

Bone broth is packed with nutrients to improve overall health, with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and collagen.

As far back as the 12th Century the Egyptian Jewish physician and philosopher, Moshe ben Maimonides, recommended chicken soup for respiratory tract symptoms.

But I also think there is more to this. When someone is caring for you there is biological proof that love improves the receivers immunity. There is no doubt it has a positive impact on the person giving it out too.

And so the benefits of chicken soup are two-fold: the kind act of the cook and the goodness of the broth. A beautiful combination.


Chicken soup for the soul


Left over chicken bones from Sunday roast or 2 chicken carcasses (if i have time I roast the carcasses for half an hour first for added flavour)

2 tablespoons of cider vinegar – Top tip – (Adding cider vinegar to the water breaks down the collagen and draws nutrients out of the bones)

Added ingredients for making the soup later

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

A few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary

2 leeks, finely sliced

3 carrots, roughly chopped

1 small turnip cut in to tiny squares

Two handfuls of frozen peas

Large handful of basmati rice


To make the stock place the chicken bones in to a stock pot, just cover with water (about 2 litres) and add the cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, place the lid on and turn down to a rolling simmer for about 3 hours until the stock has reduced to about a third. You may want to top up a little. Keep your eye on it.

When it has reduced down you can strain out the liquid.

When the stock is ready you can now consume as it is, refrigerate or freeze when cool or make a soup.

Make the soup

In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the leeks with the herbs and cook gently for 15 minutes. Then add the carrots and turnip and gently cook for 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for half an hour, or until the turnip is cooked. Then add the rice and cook for a further 10 minutes before finally adding the peas and cooking for another 5 minutes. Sea salt and pepper to taste.

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