The flu is hitting a lot of people hard right now. On the local news here in Chicago, we’ve been told that area hospital emergency rooms are swamped with people being treated for the flu- heavy coughing and sneezing that they just can’t shake off without medical attention. And flu season hasn’t even officially begun. In our house, we’ve been eating chicken soup to strengthen our immune system and give ourselves a fighting chance against whatever is out there.
Like most people, I grew up eating chicken noodle soup as a get-well food. To this day, whenever I eat it, it reminds me of the times when I was completely sick and fighting off something that chicken soup seemed to knock right out of the park, as long as I kept eating it, which was usually the only thing I could stomach.
Nowadays, I am of a very different opinion- although it’s still very much a get-well dish in my mind, it’s also a dish I prepare to help us prevent* illness, insha’allah, by fortifying our bodies with all of the vitamins and minerals that are in the vegetables, the chicken and the broth that comes from making this soup with the chicken’s bones, that are full of calcium and magnesium and other essential nutrients.
Start out with high quality halal chicken cuts like the thighs and legs I get from Crescent Foods. They sell them in a variety of packs and for this soup, I like to get the skinless pieces since it’s just easier to deal with.
Choose a good quality noodle for your soup, even though it’s the last thing to go in it’s still incredibly important. I like egg noodles for added protein- the ones above are a Hungarian variety made from wheat flour. Just be sure to choose a small enough noodle that will be easy to eat with the soup.
I also like a good variety of vegetables in mine, but my classic combination is: onion, garlic, carrot and celery. In this soup I also added tomato, but I don’t always do that. It’s optional, of course.
All of the beautiful colors of these ingredients are already uplifting.
I also love to use fresh herbs like parsley and thyme to hone in their nutritional value.
Put all together and cooked slowly over time, this recipe makes a full pot that you can share with neighbors and friends who are sick (or not, of course), but you can also freeze it which I suggest doing without the noodles and then once it’s reheated, add the noodles to cook thoroughly just before serving.
I wish you all wellness and good health this winter and beyond. Take good care of yourselves!
What’s your food suggestion for staying strong and healthy during flu season?
Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
1.5 pounds skinless chicken (thighs and drumsticks), bone-in
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
5 carrots, diced
1/2 cup white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sea salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped plus more for finishing
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 cups water or chicken broth
1 pound bag of egg noodles
fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator to take the chill out of it before cooking (about 10 minutes)- it helps the meat from sticking to the pot and tearing.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil gently.
Add the chicken to the oil and brown on each side, approximately 3-5 minutes each.
Add the chopped celery and carrots and saute until softened. Next add the onion, garlic and tomatoes as well as the salt and pepper.
Add water or broth to cover the meat. Add the fresh or dried herbs.
Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for 30 minutes, covered.
Remove chicken from the pot to a plate and let it cool. Take out the bones from the chicken and shred into desired pieces (I don’t shred the chicken as much as I would for tacos because I like thicker chunks of meat in my soup, but it’s up to you). Meanwhile, reduce the heat of the soup to a simmer.
Return shredded chicken back to the pot. Add the noodles and bring the heat up to medium-high. Cook until noodles are finished, according to package instructions.
Ladle hot soup into individual bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, if desired.
*Disclaimer- I’m not a medical professional who can give medical advice on the prevention of illnesses nor am I suggesting that this recipe is a cure for any type of medical ailment