When I posted about my illness on Facebook yesterday, someone suggested chicken soup. Not a bad suggestion at all, really – many people may believe Grandma’s claim that chicken soup will help a cold (or in my case, bronchitis) is just an old wives tale, but there’s actually some scientific evidence backing her up.
Chicken soup has been touted for it’s curative properties for centuries, especially for respiratory illnesses, but why is that? First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the mucus membranes. It is also incredibly nourishing, especially when made with bones as well as meat and vegetables, as well as being easy to digest.
I certainly wasn’t up to making any kind of chicken soup from scratch, but that was okay because we made chicken stock not too long ago and I have quite a few jars of it tucked away in the basement. So I sent The Young One (who considerately ordered pizza and took it upstairs for his own dinner) down to fetch me a couple of pint jars. I could have just heated it up as it was and enjoyed it – there’s nothing quite like homemade chicken stock; the stuff in the stores simply doesn’t compare – but,well, you know me; if I’m able to stand and face the stove, there will be cooking.
I’ve pretty much been using Japanese sweet potatoes exclusively for the last few months, but recently I bought some of the ordinary, red-skinned variety and hadn’t used them yet. I decided to cook them up in the chicken stock, and if I’d stopped there it would have been marvelous, but I got a bit carried away. I was out of ghee, so I decided to sauté onion, celery and garlic in coconut oil, then added the chicken stock and potatoes. Since there were sweet potatoes in the pot, next went in a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. After it all cooked down and the potatoes were soft, I used my stick blender – the best invention EVAR, in my humble opinion, to pureé it all directly in the pot. It was all lovely, but still needed something else, so I added a can of coconut milk to make it creamy (and compliment the coconut oil), and added salt, pepper and a touch of cayenne just give it a little heat.
Oh. My. Gawd. It turned out marvelously, and was the first thing I’ve had any appetite for in days. It was so good, in fact, I ate two bowls of it and when I gave a taste to The Young One, who normally turns his nose up at sweet potatoes as well as coconut, he said, “That’s pretty good, actually,” and looked as if he regretted his pizza. Beloved, who was out of town on business last night, also seemed bummed that he missed out on the soup, so I suppose I’ll be making it again very soon. The addition of some andouille sausage would just knock it out of the ballpark.
As for it’s curative properties, well…I woke up this morning feeling quite a bit better and my cough, instead of being dry and hacking, has actually become productive.
I’m a convert.
Note: The soup is Whole30 compliant and can be made vegetarian/vegan if you use vegetable stock.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 small celery stalks, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (13.5 ounce can)
- salt and pepper to taste
- cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
- Melt the coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in blender or food processor until smooth; return to pot. Or use an immersion blender to puree directly in the soup pot.
- Add coconut milk and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne, if using. Ladle into bowls and garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes, if desired.
- Nutrition (per serving): 320 calories, 18.6g total fat, 4.8mg cholesterol, 304.3mg sodium, 733.4mg potassium, 33.3g carbohydrates, 4.1g fiber, 8.5g sugar, 7.4g protein.