I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling a bit under the weather, there’s nothing I want more than a ginormous vat of chicken soup. I’m talking an industrial-sized vat, loaded with veggies and a healthy serving of rice for good measure. I’m a firm believer in the whole, “chicken soup is the ‘Jewish Penicillin’ for your cold” thing.
In addition to its magical healing powers, this easy chicken soup is a cinch to throw together. Meaning you’ll be able to promptly go back to burying yourself under the covers with reruns of Friends and How I Met Your Mother.
I’ve always wondered WHY chicken soup is so effective at fighting colds. Sure, it might be psychosomatic. But according to one study mentioned by the New York Times, researchers believe colds are caused by viral infections in the upper respiratory tract. The body then responds with inflammation, which results in the migration of infection-fighting white blood cells to the area. Unfortunately, these cells are typically unable to kill viruses, but as a side effect, stimulate the mucus production that results in congestion, coughing, and sneezing. According to these same researchers, the ingredients in chicken soup appear to prevent the migration of these white blood cells, therefore relieving the development of these cold symptoms.
Other researchers believe chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory and temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, relieving congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the lining of your nose.
Oh, and don’t forget about thyme! Thyme is said to contain chemicals that help fight bacterial infections and relieve smooth muscle spasms like coughing.
Whether you believe these research findings or not, let’s get real for a sec. A piping hot bowl of chicken soup can’t hurt. At all. Plus, it’s delicious and comforting. And elimination diet-friendly. So here’s how to throw one together.
First, grab all of your ingredients. If I’m short on time, I’ll just use a couple of baked chicken breasts, which is what I’ve done for this recipe. You can bake these while you’re prepping and cooking the vegetables.
Then you’ll need to do some chopping. Get those carrots, parsnips, onions, and celery stalks cut up into nice little bite-sized chunks. You’ll also want to mince your garlic and thyme at this point.
Next, toss your olive oil, veggies, and herbs into the pot over medium heat. You’ll want to cook them for five to ten minutes until the vegetables start to sweat, or become translucent (not browned). This is an important step! Sweating the aromatics (i.e. onions, carrots, celery, garlic, etc.) before adding additional ingredients ensures that you’re drawing out the most flavor you can. You’re basically building your soup foundation.
Once your vegetables are translucent, it’s time to add the chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil over high heat, add the rice, return to a boil, and then reduce the soup to a simmer over medium-low heat. This is a great time to taste test and add additional seasonings if needed. Note: I’ve used white rice in this particular photo because that’s what I had on hand, but I typically prefer brown rice.
Once the rice is nearly ready (30-40 minutes, depending on what type of rice you’ve chosen), it’s time to add chicken pieces.
Let everything simmer for about five more minutes, and then voilà. It’s soup time. Go kill that cold!
Chicken Soup with Vegetables and Rice
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 8-10 servings
- 2T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
- 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced diagonally (similar size to carrot slices; cut slices in half if needed)
- 4 celery stalks, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
- 1 cup brown rice or long grain white rice
- 2 baked chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces (here’s how I make mine)
- Place a large stock pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and big pinches of both salt and pepper. Cook and stir often for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent (softened but not browned).
- Pour in the chicken broth and bring the liquid to a boil. Add in the rice, and cook over medium-low heat until the rice is tender. This should take 30-40 minutes, depending on the type of rice you’re using. Feel free to taste test at this point, and add additional seasonings if desired.
- Once the rice is ready, add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 more minutes before serving.