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Healing with Chicken Soup and Warming Spices

Healing with Chicken Soup and Warming Spices

Katy Morris

Both your doctor and your grandmother concur – there is something to be said for the remedial, comforting power of homemade chicken soup when your immune system is in need of a boost. Although many believe the benefits of chicken soup are psychosomatic (perhaps it elicits consoling memories of your childhood), modern research shows that there is scientific proof that this stuff is the ultimate comfort food and is super healthy.


Chicken soup contains a compound called carnosine, which helps to prevent inflammation that occurs at the onset of a viral infection. In addition, the hot fluid helps to soothe sore throats and eases congestion.  Chicken also has an amino acid in it called cysteine, which helps to thin that yucky mucus that can congest your lungs. Homemade broth, which aids digestion, is very rich in calcium, magnesium, and other easily absorbed, replenishing minerals.

chicken soup ingredients

Add some celery, carrots, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, and sweet potatoes into your chicken soup, and you will get the added antioxidant benefits of these nutrition-packed veggies that will help fight infections.  Sue Smith, of Prime Health Style, highlights that “root veggies have natural sweetness, and are very satisfying, grounding and warming.”

What other ingredients should you turn to at this time of year?

Spices , jarred

Sue Smith and Health Coach, Amie Guyette Hall, also specified that pungent and spicy ginger root is another must have for immune strengthening, and given its high concentration, you need only a little bit to reap its many benefits. Not only does it help to alleviate gastro intestinal discomfort, it is also a super antioxidant, has extensive anti-inflammatory effects and helps heal dizziness and nausea.

ginger shots Catch a Healthy Habit, Fairfield

Simply add fresh ginger to a mug of hot water for a quick, homemade ginger tea, and you will soon have a settled stomach. Catch A Healthy Habit’s 2 oz. ginger shot is another great way to enjoy the healing benefits of ginger. You gotta be brave though: it packs a hot punch!

Tynne, at Catch A Healthy Habit, highlights cinnamon as well: “Cinnamon strengthens the cardiovascular system and acts as a blood-thinning agent, which increases circulation and in turn acts to warm the body.”


Turmeric is another healing remedy to check out, according to both Smith and Guyette Hall. Used in Asia for medicinal purposes, turmeric is a potent antioxidant and contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory effects. It also has been proven to reduce pain and fever, and aid digestion.

Guyette Hall has some great resources on her website for warming drinks, including a Creamy Turmeric Tea.


She also mentioned that cayenne pepper is a key spice to include in warming dishes this winter. Not only is it an anti-cold and flu agent, cayenne has also been proven to ease upset stomach, sore throats, coughs, and to stimulate circulation.

B.O.C. breakfast of champions- The Stand

The Stand in Fairfield and Norwalk clearly understands the health benefits of this spice; they incorporate cayenne in their nutrient-packed juices and avocado toast sandwich.

If you’re seeking a traditional Chicken Soup recipe, see Liz’s below. “I’ve made chicken soup for my family forever. What’s changed is the range of ingredients I add to it. Traditional Jewish chicken soup is simply chicken, carrots, celery, onion and parsnips. After watching my Israeli mother-in-law add other veggies like zucchini and cauliflower, I began to add them in also, but in the last half hour of cooking. I add tomatoes for a little extra hit of vitamin C and for the beautiful golden color they add to the broth.”

” I was honored to be asked for my chicken soup recipe by my daughter-in-law! I never gave a thought to how I make it, other than to try to load it with tons of veggies, always organic. It was fun to pause and actually think through it.”

Liz eliminated the  messy straining by tying up the aromatics, garlic and onion and whatever else she doesn’t want floating in the bowl, in cheesecloth.  Before cooling the soup, simply lift out the pouch and allow it to drain over a colander so none of the golden broth is lost. What’s left in the pot is the magical broth, plenty of chicken and the veggies she and her family wants to eat.

soup sock

For a full selection of great spices, head on over to Penzey’s in Norwalk, La Boite in NYC, or the Savory Spice Shop online to pick up these great warming, healing spices.


  1. Chicken soup in great (even listed by WHO as efficacious), but a good alternative is flanken soup. Your Nanny Scher made great flanken soup. We make a simple version for Friday night, and find it is a comforting, health supporting start to Shabbat. Maybe we can get you to do a flanken soup recipe?

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