Monday, January 30, 2012

Jewish Penicillin

This week, Dennis got sick.  So, I made his favorite “I’m sick” soup: Tortellini Soup.  As he started feeling better, I got sick.  So, I made my favorite “I’m sick” soup: Chicken Noodle Soup. 

The main reason the Chicken Soup for the Soul books caught on so was because Chicken Noodle Soup is one of the most feel good foods out there.  It’s warm and the slippery noodles are easy on the stomach and every sip seems to make the world melt away.  My guess is the reason Chicken Soup is so effective in making you feel better is that it lulls the germs and viruses and bacteria into a state of taste euphoria.  Then they don’t feel like attacking your body anymore. 

My limited scientific insight aside, the health benefits of Chicken Soup have been proven in labs.  Dr. Stephen Rennard at the University of Nebraska Medical Center decided to test Chicken Soup’s abilities and has continued to conduct research on it for over 15 years.  One things he tested was Chicken Soup’s anti-inflammatory properties.  How that works is the Chicken Soup slows the movement of the white blood cell, Neutrophil, resulting in less inflammation.  Rennard’s findings were even featured in the Great Food Almanac.
His wife, Barbara, says hers is the best Chicken Soup.  That may be so, but a better truth is that every person’s mom makes the best Chicken Soup.  It is the one you grow up eating when you are sick or when it is cold and blustery.  That serious of tastes become the sense memory surrounding chicken soup.  No can ever match it, no restaurant can ever reproduce it. 

When I made Chicken Soup this week, I took what I remembered about my mom’s Chicken Soup and did my best to recreate it, right down to the can of Cream of Chicken (one of the few times my mom ever used cream of anything).  The only thing I changed was adding spinach (because I used a pre-sliced mirepoix and so the vegetables were too tiny).  I also added curry in the hopes that the turmeric and spices would break up my clogged sinuses. 

Sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, cradling a bowl of steaming soup, it is hard to feel sick anymore.  Instead, you can’t help but feel a little comforted.  Did it work?  Well, I am still a little sick.  But think how much sicker I’d be had it not had been for the Chicken Noodle Soup.  

**If you want a copy of Barbara Rennard’s Chicken Soup Recipe or want to read the full article, check out  
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