Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Classic Chicken Soup

Ian Knauer has the perfect recipe for what ails you.
Sep 28, 2012· 1 MIN READ
Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He has worked for Gourmet and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook The Farm.

There is little more satisfying than making a big batch of chicken soup for loved ones when they’re sick. It feels good to care for a loved one. It’s rewarding to make something delicious from scratch. And, chicken soup actually works. It’s not just an old wives’ tale—chicken soup cures the common cold.

This fact was scientifically proven over a decade ago, in a lab, by white-coated doctors who studied the effect of chicken soup on white blood cells. They found that chicken soup does in fact significantly reduce white blood cell activity (which causes the symptoms of a cold), yet when was the last time your doctor gave you a prescription for chicken soup? Healthcare is so broken.

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In any case, when my girlfriend came down with a cold this week, the first thing I did was boil up a big batch of stock. And I swear to you, it worked. The next day she was back on her feet.

As an interesting aside, the researchers not only tested a homemade version of soup but also tested several store-bought versions, and although the results varied somewhat, they all worked. So if you aren’t lucky enough to have someone make soup for you, at least you can pick some up at the store. But, if you read this column, you’re no doubt lovable enough to have someone special in your life who will make you chicken soup when you’re sick. Here’s how:

Cold-Curing Chicken Soup

Serves 4


1 (3-to 4-pound) chicken, cut into pieces

Sea salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, halved

3 carrots, cut into pieces

3 celery ribs, cut into pieces

1 head garlic, halved crosswise

1/2 a bunch parsley

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

about 10 cups water

3/4 cup broken angle hair pasta

Chopped cilantro


Season chicken with salt. Heat oil in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium high heat until hot. Brown chicken in batches, about 6 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl when browned. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot, then add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to fat in pan and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken back to pot along with any juices in bowl, parsley, and peppercorns and add just enough water to cover chicken. Bring stock to a simmer, skimming if necessary, and simmer for 1 hour.

Strain stock and shred meat, discarding bones and vegetables. Place meat and stock back in pot and bring to a boil. Stir in noodles and boil until noodles are cooked, about 4 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot.