Why is chicken soup so healing?

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For chicken soup, it is not necessary to put a whole soup chicken in the pot, the same can be done with frozen chicken thighs. And a look at the culinary pots of the world shows: coconut milk, chili and sausage also harmonize well with soup.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pot has sweet potatoes, pineapples, and bananas among the pot's ingredients.  Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
1/5Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pot has sweet potatoes, pineapples, and bananas among the pot’s ingredients. © Karl-Joseph Hildenbrand
Herman Haberberger draws inspiration for his soup recipes from his travels: he prepares Asian, Creole or Jamaican versions.  Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
2/5Herman Haberberger draws inspiration for his soup recipes from his travels: he prepares Asian, Creole or Jamaican versions. © Karl-Joseph Hildenbrand
With noodles and fresh vegetables, Asian chicken soup becomes a little more filling.  Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
3/5With noodles and fresh vegetables, Asian chicken soup becomes a little more filling. © Karl-Joseph Hildenbrand
Asian chicken soups are especially popular at Hermann Haberberger Soup Bar.  Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
4/5Asian chicken soups are especially popular at Hermann Haberberger Soup Bar. © Karl-Joseph Hildenbrand
Hermann Haberberger runs the soup bar Souperio in Würzburg.  Its signature dish is freshly cooked chicken soups in all variations.  Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand
5/5Hermann Haberberger runs the soup bar Souperio in Würzburg. Its signature dish is freshly cooked chicken soups in all variations. © Karl-Joseph Hildenbrand

It is considered a decoction for the sick, and the satirist Wiglaf Droste even dedicated a poem to its supposed healing power. However, the remedy for chicken soup has not been scientifically proven.

In 2000, a study was conducted in the USA that revealed the anti-inflammatory effect of chicken soup for colds. “However, this was only a test-tube study,” says Irminghard Dexheimer, a nutritionist from Mainz. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, there is still plenty of reason to believe that chicken soup has earned its traditional reputation as a healing soup.

For Dexheimer, chicken soup is excellent soul food for the soul, which is especially useful for colds in the cold season. “Even the smell of the drug evokes pleasant childhood memories for many.”

Isabelle Keller, a nutritionist at the German Nutrition Society in Bonn, recalls the tradition of chicken soup as an old home remedy: “If a chicken was slaughtered back then to give a sick person an extra portion of meat, it was definitely something else. than today”. Attention and care combined with rest and relaxation played their role even then.

In addition to the purported benefits of chicken soup, there’s no denying that the nutrients in its ingredients boost the immune system: “It starts with chicken, high in zinc, and continues with classic vegetables like leeks, celery, carrots and onions.” explains Dexheimer. The vegetable contains vitamin K, beta-carotene, and special phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory effects. If you top off the soup with parsley at the end, you’re adding an extra dose of vitamin C. “You can also season them with ginger, which will increase the anti-cold effect.” Dexheimer says.Plus, sipping chicken broth lubricates dry mucous membranes.

Fresh chicken for soup doesn’t have to end up in a pot for comforting pleasure. According to nutritionists, frozen products are in no way inferior to fresh ones. If the cold weather is approaching, you should prepare quickly. For this, Dexheimer recommends the following quick fix: Boil one or two chicken thighs briefly and add frozen vegetables, bay leaves, cloves and herbs. Thyme, which dissolves mucus in the respiratory tract with its essential oils, is suitable for this.

If in Germany the classic version of chicken soup is that the soup is cooked from chicken, and the broth is supplemented with vegetables, then a look at other countries shows a variety of cooking options.

Hermann Haberberger and his wife Hanna were inspired by many trips around the world. At her soup bar “Souperior” in Würzburg, customers love to eat exotic chicken soups. “First of all, the Tom Kha Gai Thai soup is the queen of our chicken soups,” Haberberger says.

Important ingredients for the famous Thai soup are chili pepper, lemongrass and coconut milk. Another Asian classic at the soup bar is Singapore’s national dish, laksa: “Chili and lemongrass also play a role here, but the chicken in this soup goes with the prawn tails,” says Haberberger. He himself likes the New Orleans crossover best: “Gambo, a chicken stew, comes from Creole cuisine, and the original recipe also includes andouille, a French smoked offal sausage. But we replace it with regular smoked sausage.”

Another version of the stew is the chicken pot, which Haberbergers know from Jamaican cuisine and now love: sweet potatoes, bananas and pineapples, orange juice and cumin, among other things, accompany the meat of the grilled chicken.

Does it always have to be chicken for the soup, or does the German version of the soup also include grilled chicken? “It’s possible to do both, but chicken for soup is fattier, and the fat is the carrier of flavor,” says Haberberger. If you like a heartier dinner, you can add noodles, rice, semolina dumplings or egg cream to the chicken and vegetables.

How is it so beautifully expressed in the poem by Wiglaf Droste? “The soup will be delicious, will turn you from sick to healthy, will give you strength, energy and impetus for life.”

dpa/tmn

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