Loving Away a Summer Cold by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Chicken Soup for the Cold

published on pg. 7 of the SMDP newspaper weekend edition, May 17-18, 2008; click link for original article


It was spring but it felt like a summer cold. I lost my voice completely. For a while I had that kind of sexy, throaty voice that’s fun to have for a few days. But I hate the part where I feel like I was hit by a Mack truck.


Even before feeling sick, I had the inclination to buy a free-range chicken at the Farmer’s market. I’d been following a semi-vegetarian diet but felt like something was missing. I evaluated my diet and noted that my recent fatigue could be due to the fact that I was not consuming much animal protein with the exception of an egg a day, whey protein powder and some fish on occasion.


None of these foods are significant sources of iron which plays a role in the immune system. When following even a semi-vegetarian diet it’s a good idea to supplement with a multivitamin that contains minerals. The one I take does not contain much iron, only 1/3 of the recommended amount.


Iron is often taken as a separate supplement because not everyone needs it in supplement form everyday. Iron supplements can also cause constipation, just FYI and, maybe TMI, but good to know just the same. People most at risk for iron deficiency include women, athletes, and vegetarians. I fall into all of those categories.


Before taking additional iron it is best to be evaluated by a physician who could check your iron status through lab work. The symptoms of iron deficiency are similar to the symptoms of B12 deficiency as well as many chronic diseases. If you supplement with Iron but really need more B12 then you are only masking and not solving the problem. I prefer to promote food first anyway.


Nutrients in food work synergistically, meaning they work together like a team to help each other be more successful in your body. In animal proteins the iron is bound to hemoglobin just like in our bodies. Hemoglobin is a protein that gives red blood cells their color and carries oxygen to all of the cells. If you consume the iron in a form already bound to hemoglobin, called Heme-iron, you will absorb the iron more efficiently than when it is not bound to hemoglobin, Non-heme iron.


The best food sources of Heme-Iron include dark meats such as red meat: especially liver but also all cuts of beef, lamb and wild game. White meats such as pork, poultry and fish have less. However, the dark meat of poultry is a better source of Heme-iron than the white meat; one really good reason to buy a whole chicken instead of just the breast meat.


I actually bought a Cornish hen, which I had never bought before. It was so little and I felt bad but now being sick I find that I am going to make the most out of this little bird which so graciously gave its life for me.


Not only did I enjoy a beautifully marinated and roasted bird but I made the most amazing chicken soup to help me on the road to recovery from my common, but still rather inconvenient cold.


They say that chicken soup is good for a cold but no one ever really knew why. So, a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center decided to find out. Essentially they found that chicken soup has some anti-inflammatory effects which work directly in the respiratory system helping to decrease the production of mucus associated with cold symptoms. The head researcher also stated that there is the TLC factor, not some scientific acronym; this is simply the Tender Loving Care that goes into homemade soups. When you know the soup was prepared by a caring individual that alone might make you feel better. Well, I love me and I love my food, so that plays a hand in my healing process.


My soup makes me feel better with each bite. So now I will share with you my marinade recipe for my little Cornish hen and the soup I made to show my appreciation for the life of this bird, the iron it provided me and the anti-inflammatory attributes to boot.


Marinated Chicken

All Purpose Marinade
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup tamari
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons maple syrup or honey
2 cloves garlic,
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend. Pour half of the marinade in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the poultry in the marinade. Pour more marinade over the bird and cover with foil. Place it in the fridge for at least two hours and up to one day. Roast the bird at 375 degrees, 20 minutes per pound plus an additional 10 -20 minutes. A 5 lb chicken may take up to 2 hours. Check the temperature. Should be 180 degrees when done. Remove foil and roast for more 10 minutes uncovered to brown. To make a gravy from the marinade, pour the marinade into a sauce pot, bring to a rolling boil. Add arrowroot, cornstarch or flour, one tablespoon at a time until reaching desired consistency. Any leftover gravy should be heated to a rolling boil for at least one minute before consuming.


Chicken Soup

Large stock pot (4-6 quarts)
Chicken carcass, bone, skin, and extra marinade
64 ounces of water (2 quarts or 8 cups)
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 whole onions, chopped
12 carrots, chopped
12 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Make stock first.

NOTE: Half of the chopped vegetables should be set aside to go into the soup AFTER you make the stock.To make the stock, use the remaining carcass of the bird (skin, bones and all) plus HALF of the vegetables along with the lemon juice, dried herbs, salt and pepper into the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 1-2 hours. Add more water as needed. Drain the stock and preserve the liquid. Remove any meat from the poultry to add to the soup.
To make the soup, pour 1 cup fresh stock into the pot. Add the garlic, onions, carrots and celery and steam sauté for 5 minutes then add the rest of the stock. Bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add the parsley and any reserved meat at the end. You may want to add small diced potatoes or cooked brown rice to give the soup more sustenance. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste