Thursday, October 22, 2020

On Cooking Southern: Chicken Soup

Comfort may be a cure for the common cold

By Laurie Triplette

ldtriplette@aol.com

SOUTHERNISM OF THE WEEK:

Porely: (Also known as poorly). In ill health or in low spirits. Not doing too well, in a way that goes way beyond under the weather.

Well, my darlings, the Old Bride just spent the past week snuffling, sneezing, hacking, and blowing, in between vaporizing and dosing with cold and sinus meds. I just love February in the Mid South, where the temperature outside can range from 30 to 70 degrees on any given day—or during the same day—with a downpour or hail thrown in for good measure. It’s no wonder everyone around here has been sick. In my case, the schizoid climactic assault was incubated during bookend weekends—the first being a weekend with my daughter in her overheated New York City apartment during Blizzard Nemo; the second being a DAR conference of morning-to-night meetings in an air-conditioned Jackson, Mississippi hotel.

Our local ancestors developed many home remedies for fighting off the ague and pushing back the sinusitis. Foods and poultices containing chicken broth, hot peppers and horseradish were favorites for unblocking and cleansing. In my family, we stick to what we know. The Old Bride has made sure to consume plenty of all of these culinary remedies, ramping up the heat when I couldn’t even smell the potent aroma of country ham!

chkn-noodle-DSCN3404My primary go-to sinusitis remedy is good ol’ chicken soup. EVERY good caregiver knows that chicken soup has restorative properties, whether cooked with or without the bones, and with or without garlic or onions. Scientific studies made during the early part of the 21st century have supported our folk wisdom, indicating that chicken soup releases the amino acid cysteine that inhibits neutrophil migration, which might have an anti-inflammatory effect on body tissues. Neutrophils are the circulating white blood cells that enable the body to destroy bacteria, cellular debris, and solid particles. Neutrophil products actively stimulate mucuous production and tissue inflammation.

Chicken soup variants abound in most cultures around the world. In Bulgaria the soup is flavored with lemon juice and vinegar; in China, with ginger, scallions, soy and sesame oil. The Old Bride’s personal chicken soup favorites include liberal amounts of garlic and onions, along with the obligatory celery and carrots. The carrots contain beta carotene and have antiseptic properties against bacteria. The onions contain the flavonoid quercetin, which has antioxident and antihistamine properties, and onions also have infection-fighting properties. Celery is rich in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system, and which fights inflammation and helps prevent free radical damage. Additional beneficial properties are added when one includes diced sweet potatoes and turnips to the soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup

6 skinless bone-in chicken breasts (or 2 rotisserie roasted chickens, skin removed)

4 to 6 cloves of garlic, mashed

1 tsp ground thyme

1tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 tsp kosher salt

1 large white onion, diced

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 c chopped celery leaves

3 large carrots, scraped, julienned or sliced thin

1/2 c salted butter or extra light olive oil

Additional chicken broth, as needed (canned is fine)

2 c wide egg noodles

Additional pepper to taste

chkn-noodle-DSCN3387Place chicken in stockpot and fill with water to 2 inches below rim. Add garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Strain broth, retaining the chicken and mashed garlic bits. Shred or dice the chicken and add back to pot with mashed garlic. Sauté onion, celery and carrots in butter until veggies become tender. Ladle into the chicken pot. Bring back to a boil and add egg noodles. Simmer until noodles are done. Serve with garlic bread. Leftovers freeze well.

Quick-Fix Garlic Rolls

1 can of refrigerator crescent rolls

1/2 to 3/4 stick of salted butter

1/2 tsp powdered garlic

1 to 2 T fine-chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven o 350˚F. Place butter in a Pyrex measuring cup. Melt butter in the microwave set on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir in garlic powder and chopped parsley.

Separate the sheets of crescent rolls, and roll up each sheet, squeezing and rolling each into a ball. Dip each ball in the garlic-parsley butter and position in pie pan, about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes, until evenly browned. Drizzle garlic-parsley butter generously over each roll while hot.