In Greece, chicken soup is the go-to option for someone when they have a cold or simply feeling under the weather. It’s very common for a Greek mother or grandmother to volunteer to make you some if you say that you are feeling unwell. So now that winter is here, and many are feeling unwell, have a slight fever, sore throat, even when it is not related to covid, a warm soup might be the perfect dinner.
Does the chicken soup really work or is it a placebo effect, though?
The science part…
University research has shown that a bowl of chicken soup can offer some relief from the symptoms of the cold. The chicken soup is warm and soothing, which makes it ideal for people who have a sore throat or a cough and might thus have trouble swallowing solid foods. It is also a good source of liquids, which helps with staying hydrated and getting rid of the cold faster. At the same time, the hot broth from the soup helps with nasal congestion by opening the respiratory tract and making breathing easier.
Chicken itself is rich in protein, supporting our immune system, and is a good source of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B. By adding pasta, rice, or potatoes to the chicken soup as is usually done in Greece, we’re offering the body much-needed carbs that make us feel full and give us energy, so we feel less weak and sluggish.
In Greece, several vegetables are added to the chicken soup, such as carrots, celeriac and onion, which supply our bodies with vitamins C and K, as well as minerals and antioxidants. All these ingredients help the body fight the cold and recover faster.
… and the Greek part.
Considering that the tradition of chicken soup as a cure for the common cold goes back many generations of Greeks, it is easy to assume that the average Greek grandmother is not aware of this scientific information.
We need to remember that until a few generations ago, people in Greece, especially in the countryside, did not always have access to health care. As a result, they tended to rely on natural products, such as herbs, spices, and food to cure themselves. Besides its nutritional value, soup is a warm, comforting dish that is made ‘richer’ by adding chicken, so it seems ideal for reviving our mood when we’re feeling unwell.
Is there a type of comfort food in your country for when you feel under the weather?
GREEK CHICKEN SOUP RECIPE
- 1 whole chicken
- ½ cup white rice
- Onions, celery, carrots
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 eggs, beaten
- The juice of 2-3 lemons, depending on how juicy they are
- Step 1
Rinse the chicken and remove any organs that may be inside. Place it in a pot. Add as many onions, celery, carrots you’d like (there are a lot of recipe variations, so you can add your personal touch here!). Fill the pot with enough water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, skimming the fat from the top as it collects from time to time.
- Step 2
When the chicken is done, you should be able to pull the meat off the bones easily. Take the chicken out the pot and place in a large bowl to cool. Now add the rice to the broth, together with some salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 20 more minutes, or until the rice is tender.
- Step 3
Whisk the eggs (entire eggs) together with the lemon juice in a bowl. When the rice is fully cooked, turn off the heat. Take one spoon at a time, full of hot broth, and mix with the eggs slowly, so the eggs do not curdle. Gradually add more and more spoons of broth until the egg mixture is warm. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pot, whisking briskly. The result should be a creamy, cloudy-looking soup.
- Step 4
You may add pieces of chicken to the soup before serving or serve the soup with the chicken on the side.
TIP; not in the mood to make Chicken soup, but do you love to have a cup of tea? Then try a Greek herbal tea, which can also do wonders.