At the first sign of the sniffles, my mother would head to the kitchen and whip us up a batch of her homemade chicken soup. She would add fresh chicken, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and of course, her soup was never complete without tomatoes! Yes, my mother knew just what we needed because without fail this homemade recipe, which had been passed down for generations, would keep a cold at bay! I often speak about this very recipe on The Survival Mom Radio Network or when teaching canning classes throughout West Michigan. Like many family traditions, “the secret is in the sauce.” Well, in the case, the secret is in the broth! My mother always called this healthy winter staple Jewish Penicillin because chicken soup has dated back to ancient times. Actually, I was pleased to read confirmation of what my mother had been saying my whole life regarding chicken soup when a doctor recently published an article documenting evidence chicken soup actually does have health benefits. Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, found evidence that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent a cold’s miserable side effects. Rennard’s findings were published in an issue of International Journal Chest – the Cardiopulmonary and Critical Care Journal. Pretty exciting stuff if you ask me! My mom, on the other hand, wondered what took the medical community so long to finally acknowledge the benefits of this centuries old culinary tradition!
As my mother would always say: “the secret’s in the broth!” She was insistent on making sure her broth started with a whole chicken cut up with the skin left on. The nutrients, healthy oils, and fats produced when boiling the whole chicken are what give the soup its golden color, its rich flavor, and its anti-inflammatory properties. What I love about West Michigan are the many natural farms scattered throughout so I can pick up a whole chicken free from antibiotics. One of my favorite farms to purchase all-natural, anti-biotic-free meat is Heffron Farms in Belding. There slogan is “The Natural Way.” In today’s busy lifestyles and especially in Michigan this time of year, it is prudent to have what I call, “nature’s penicillin” lining your pantry shelves. Now don’t get me wrong, I love making a fresh batch of soup to serve that very day, however, when your immune system is fighting a cold, and your energy is not in abundance, there is nothing better than popping open a mason jar, heating, and eating. Keeping a homemade batch of chicken soup on hand is a convenient, healthy way to give your body the boost it needs to starve off the common cold. For more winter recipes and home canning information, visit www.CanningDiva.com today! –Diane Devereaux, The Canning Diva