Chicken Soup for the... Flu?

I’ve heard that there are ten types of flu running rampant across the US at the moment – TEN! Like many people I’m doing everything I can to avoid getting this debilitating illness. My co-workers and friends are dropping like flies around me and social media is full of people coughing, running a fever and worse! So, now seemed like a really good time to research chicken soup recipes. Got the flu? You’re going to need a doctor’s visit, bed rest, plenty of fluids and to eat chicken soup of course!

Grandma’s Chicken soup

Chicken soup recipes, like many folk medicines, were passed down by the family matriarch from one generation to another. Chicken soup can help with the symptoms of colds and flu – its not just an old wives tale.

Chicken soup can help soothe a cold. The chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, which helps thin mucus in the lungs, and the hot broth helps to keep nasal passages moist, prevent dehydration, and fight inflammation in the throat. So, I’m sharing my chicken soup recipe with you this week.

Roast that bird

I like to make my chicken soup from scratch using an herb roasted chicken (see recipe below). This may seem like a lot of work, but the flavor is so much better than anything you can get from a can. You can use a rotisserie chicken from the local grocery to save some time but you may need to season your soup additionally.

Making Stock

Once you’ve roasted the chicken, the real fun begins. The secret to any good soup is the stock and good stock takes time. The basis for my chicken stock are the chicken bones of the roasted fowl after I’ve removed and saved the meat. Put the chicken bones in a pot with water, a healthy bit of salt, black pepper, spices, garlic cloves, onion, celery, carrots and apple cider vinegar. Yes, I said vinegar.

Cover the ingredients with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a constant simmer. For the first 10 to 15 minutes, you will want to check the pot and skim off the foamy layer that forms. This is impurities in some of the ingredients and a bit of chicken fat that will cause the broth to be cloudy. The impurities will also affect the flavor, so best to get them out now. I typically let my broth simmer over night covered.

Once the stock is ready, use a wire strainer to remove all the bones and mushy vegetables. Salvage any meat you may find for the soup and discard the solids. You should have a large pot of relatively clear and tasty chicken broth ready for your soup.

Chicken Soup

Once you have the stock, the soup is the easy part and can be ready in about an hour. Chop or shred the chicken that you saved earlier and add it to the stock in a large pot. I then add celery, carrots, a bit of chopped onion and simmer until vegetables are tender. You can precook the noodles or rice and add at the last or by the bowl to keep them from getting mushy. Adjust seasoning to your own taste.

I hope you and your family avoid the flu this year. In case you don’t, I hope this recipe helps get you over the worst of it. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat to your Health.

Oven Roasted Chicken

  • a 4 to 5 LB whole chicken
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Poultry seasoning or favorite herbs and spices
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock or water

Place your oven rack in one of the lowest slots available.  You will need the room for the upright bird. Preheat your oven to 400oF. Remove the giblets and liver from inside the cavity and rinse the bird with water.  Pat dry with a couple of paper towels.

Rub the chicken down with oil and sprinkle liberally with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the roasting rack so that the breast is up and the legs are down. If using a can, remember to fill the can at least ½ full of stock before placing the chicken on it. Tuck the wings so that they aren’t sticking out which will promote more even cooking.

Set the rack inside a baking dish large enough that the bird doesn’t overhang the side and pour the remaining chicken stock into the base of the rack and baking dish. If you don’t have enough stock for both, put some water in the baking dish.

Place the bird in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the bird from the oven and baste it using the dripping from the rack. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the top ½ of the chicken to form a tent being careful not to burn yourself. This will hold moisture inside the bird and allow the breast to cook completely.  Return to oven.

Every 20 or so minutes, remove the tent and baste the bird.  Replace the tent and return to the oven. Do this for about an hour. After an hour and a half of total roasting time, remove the tent from the bird and baste it. Continue baking for 30 to 45 minutes allowing the bird to become crispy and brown while basting every 15 to 20 minutes. If you have one, check the thigh with an instant read thermometer. It should be at least 180 F. 

If you don’t have a thermometer and think the bird is done, remove it from the oven and rack. When you start carving, you will determine if the bird is completely done or not. If not, place in a microwave for a few minutes to insure the bird is completely cooked. A good way to tell if the bird is done is how easily it comes apart when you are carving it.

Chicken Stock

Makes about 8 cups of stock

  • Bones of a roasted chicken
  • 2 carrots washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks of Celery, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 or 2 tsp of Kosher salt
  • 3 or 4 cloves whole garlic
  • Thyme, rosemary, oregano, or other favorite spices
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar

Bring to a boil then reduce to a constant simmer. Skim off the foamy impurities that form for the first 10 to 15 minutes for clear and more flavorful broth. Let simmer for 3 to 4 hours or overnight loosely covered. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.

After simmering, allow to cool and strain out the solids with a wire strainer or colander (you can use cheese cloth to catch the fines. Store in refrigerator in a sealed container or go ahead and make soup.

Chicken Soup with Egg noodles

Meat from 1 roasted chicken

  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 carrots, cleaned, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
  • ½ medium onion diced or three to four green onions chopped
  • ½ bag of medium Egg noodles
  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add the meat, stock and vegetables to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Then add the egg noodles and increase heat back to a quick boil until noodles are cooked. Alternately, you can precook the noodles and add it to the soup just before serving to avoid noodles getting mushy over time. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipe for this week!