I wasn't planning to start the year with a post about chicken soup. I actually had a couple of other ideas in mind, but those got put on the back burner when everyone in my house came down with the flu. It hasn't exactly been a party, but it has given me a good excuse to make chicken soup. With all of the nasty viruses going around right now, I thought this post might just come in handy!
I would have loved to have made this soup with homemade chicken bone broth, but I didn't have any homemade bone broth on hand, nor did I have time to make any. My sweet daughter didn't want me to put her down for even a second when she wasn't feeling well, so I had to make this soup the quick way. I used half chicken stock (organic Kirkland brand from Costco) and half store-bought bone broth (Pacific Brand, also from Costco). Natural Grocers carries a few other brands of bone broth that you can purchase, so you can pick your potion.
Yes, I said potion, not poison. Bone broth is rumored to provide so many health benefits that I couldn't even joke about it! Bone broth is made by adding a little bit of vinegar to the bones in a large pot of water and then simmering it for several hours. Using this method, the bones leach minerals, creating a stock that is flavorful and nutritious. According to the Weston Price Foundation, bone broth is said to contain
"minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain."
While some scientists contest that the benefits of bone broth are overblown, it certainly doesn't hurt to add bone broth to your soup. Bone broth has been around for centuries, and I've seen modern research prove the brilliance of old eating habits more than once. Chicken soup is a perfect example.
Yes, there is actually research behind the centuries-old wives tale that chicken soup helps alleviate cold or flu symptoms. Scientists don't know exactly why, but they theorize that it is due partly to the nutrients in the ingredients.
- Garlic: According to research, garlic may reduce the incidence and severity of a cold. Scientists suspect that it is the sulphur-containing compounds in garlic.
- Onions: A compound in onions called quercetin has also been shown to have antiviral properties.
- Thyme: According to the World's Healthiest Foods, thyme has a long history of use for chest and respiratory problems including coughs and chest congestion.
- Carrots: Carrots contain carotenoid vitamin A, which have been shown to support antibody production.
- Chicken and Wild Rice: Both of these foods contain protein, which are the building blocks of immune cells. The zinc in both of these ingredients also supports the production of immune cells, which helps the body fight off infection.
The benefit seems to go beyond the ingredients. Cold symptoms are caused by inflammation in the upper respiratory tract and white blood cells rushing to the region to fight it. According to this UCLA Integrative Medicine article, chicken soup has been shown to inhibit the movement of white blood cells, which leads to less symptoms.
Research also shows that chicken soup aids the drainage of nasal congestion more than hot water or cold water. This is a good thing when you want to get all that congestion out!
With all of the research supporting the benefits of chicken soup, I just had to make it for my family while they were sick. However, instead of the more common chicken noodle soup, I chose to make chicken and rice soup using wild rice. Some resources say that wild rice is actually not rice at all, it's a marsh grass. Some even consider wild rice an acceptable part of a Paleo or Primal diet, although I won't make that claim since it seems the jury is still out. Regardless of that argument though, I tend to crave carbohydrates when I'm sick, and wild rice offers a more nutrient-dense, gluten-free option. I bought Natural Grocers' brand of Organic Wild Rice for $6.89. They have the best price for wild rice that I have seen in the stores near me, but Amazon also sells it for an affordable price.
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Where ever you get it, wild rice has more protein and fiber than other grains, making it more nutritious and lower-glycemic.
It's about time that I stop talking about the healing properties of this soup and give you the recipe so you can taste how delicious it is!
Healing Chicken & Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Gluten-free | Dairy-free | Egg-free
- 16 cups chicken bone broth or stock (four 32-oz cartons)
- 2 ½ lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- 10 oz black wild rice (about 2 cups dry)
- 6 medium carrots chopped
- 4 stalks of celery chopped
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 6 cloves)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp ghee
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 ½ tsp salt, or to taste (1-2 tsp for this large pot of soup)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the chicken thighs on a baking sheet and roast at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ghee and avocado oil. When the oil is warm, add the chopped carrots, celery, and onion and ½ tsp of salt. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic, and another ½ tsp of salt and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock(s) and bring to a boil.
Add the wild rice and cook according to the directions. When the rice has about 20 minutes left, chop the chicken thighs and add to the soup.
When the rice has cooked, taste the soup and add more salt, if needed for taste.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
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