Why You Should Eat Chicken Soup Every Day for Better Health
You’ve likely heard the old saying that chicken soup is “Jewish penicillin” and there’s a very good reason for that idiom! In fact, several cultures around the world have variations of chicken soup that are mainstays in their cooking: avgolemono in Greece, ginger and scallion with chicken broth in Chinese culture, Vietnamese pho, and of course Jewish matzo ball soup. While many of us may have grown up on canned chicken noodle in the ‘80s, many families are recognizing the importance of home cooking with real food ingredients for better health, and this definitely applies when it comes to chicken soup.
Aside from the delicious taste and nourishing warmth of chicken soup, there are several health benefits to consuming it, whether you’re fighting off illness or just trying to keep from catching it in the first place. Here are some reasons why you should eat chicken soup every day for better health, and why it’s particularly soothing when you’re ill:
- Chicken broth can combat a sore throat or sinus congestion: when you’re unwell, it’s important to stay hydrated, but sometimes the last thing you feel like doing when you have a sore throat or congestion is eating. A clear chicken broth is warm and soothing, and the salt and seasoning added to broth can help stimulate dull tastebuds and provide nourishment, while still being easy to digest when your body is working so hard to fight off illness.
- Protein and vitamins in chicken soup boost immunity: Whether you’re combating illness or just trying to maintain good health, chicken soup can help. Chicken soup is filled with protein and vitamins, which can help boost immunity while also stimulating digestion. Chicken broth, and especially bone broth, is filled with protein due to the simmering of bones or meat for an extended period of time. Bone broth is super easy to make and a great way to reuse the bones from your whole rotisserie chickens, bone-in thighs, or drumsticks. The carrots, celery, and onions used to flavor your broth are high in vitamins A, K, and C as well as antioxidants and minerals.
- Chicken soup aids digestion: You may have heard that good health begins in the gut, and it’s true! Our gut health is one of the best indicators of general health, and with good reason. Not only does chicken broth stimulate the flow of digestive juices, but particularly when chicken soup is made with bone broth, it is high in collagen, which helps to line the digestive tract and soothe gut inflammation.
How to Make a Nourishing Chicken Bone Broth at Home
Chicken bone broth is so easy to make, and since our Pasturebird chickens are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones and are fed a nutrient dense diet, the bones are as high in quality as the meat and are perfect for making a nourishing chicken bone broth. You’ve probably seen bone broth in a box or can advertised in your local grocery store, but not only is homemade bone broth more nutritious, the taste of packaged bone broth just doesn’t compare to homemade.
If you don’t have a local source for chicken feet or necks (usually these can be found at a butcher shop or local farm store), you can still make a nourishing broth using just the bones from rotisserie chickens, thighs, and drumsticks - it just won’t be quite as high in collagen content. This recipe is adapted from FoodRemedies.com, but you can find a myriad of recipes on the web for chicken broth or bone broth.
2 chicken carcasses and assorted bones from pasture raised chickens
4-6 chicken feet or necks
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 onion, not peeled, cut in half or 2-3 leek green tops
2 -3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp celtic salt
1/2 Tbsp whole black pepper
1 bunch parsley or other herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano
4-5 quarts of cold filtered water
While the original recipe doesn’t call for it, we like to soak our bones in the water along with a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar before simmering; it helps to draw out the collagen from the bones - and don’t worry, you won’t taste it in your final product!
Place chicken bones in a large pot along with water and apple cider vinegar and let soak (covered) for about 30 minutes. After soaking, slowly bring to a boil over medium to low heat.
As the water begins to boil, remove the foam that rises to the top with a slotted spoon. Then add the vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper (we like to throw a bay leaf or two in there as well) and immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer.
Simmer for up to 12 hours, and no less than 4 hours.
Remove the pasture raised chicken bones, vegetables, and herbs, and strain the broth into glass jars and let cool. Store in the fridge for about 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Bone broth is delicious used in homemade chicken soup, and you can even use it to sauté vegetables, as a liquid base for cooking other foods, or sipped by itself!
Use Your Homemade Broth in Any Chicken Soup Recipe
Once you have a broth base, you can have nourishing chicken soup at your fingertips with very little effort. We recommend finding a good paleo chicken soup recipe (our Pasturebird blog posts are full of them!) and making a weekly pot of soup so that you always have some on hand. Eating chicken soup every day for better health is an easy and delicious way to lower inflammation, boost immunity, and improve digestion. On the weeks when you may not have time to make a pot of soup, you can sip on your premade bone broth daily - it’s particularly soothing in the evening and it’s high glycine content can contribute to a good night’s sleep!