Chicken soup is a known kitchen remedy for those under the weather. A good number of articles on chicken soup as an aid in the fight against the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has surfaced. I asked Dr. Jimmy Galvez Tan how and why the ubiquitous chicken soup remains the “healing” soup of choice.
Doc Jimmy, the former Secretary of Health who practices integrative medicine and combines North American and European medicine with the best of Asian and Filipino traditional medicine, had this to say: In traditional Chinese medicine, chicken is considered a “yang” food, based on the concept of yin/yang, where yang is hot and yin is cold. For one to be in a state of good health, yin and yang energy must be in a state of balance. When one is down with a cold, cough or the flu, food classified as yang brings a warming effect to the body, and is beneficial for respiratory diseases. Tan said this is the reason why the affliction itself is called a “cold,” adding that chicken soup has a drying effect. It dries the mucous in our respiratory passages, and COVID-19 is mainly a respiratory illness.
Chicken contains cysteine, an amino acid needed to synthesize glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. Cysteine by itself naturally treats respiratory diseases, fever and inflammation. If chicken broth is made with a lot of onions and other vegetables like celery, carrots and garlic, it triples the positive effect on the the healing of upper respiratory tract infections.
Onions contain allicin, and sulfur compounds found in its volatile oil prevent viral infections. Onions liquefy phlegm and have been used for centuries to combat cough, colds, influenza and bronchitis.
There is a synergy when other ingredients are incorporated into the mix. Celery is a good source of vitamins A, B, C, E, minerals, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus. It also has a volatile oil that lowers blood pressure, and has a calming effect on the brain.
Carrot is a good source of vitamins A, B, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and pectins. It soothes the intestinal walls, and when mashed, is good for loose bowel movement.
Garlic is known to boost the function of the immune system. A study found that daily garlic intake reduced colds by 63 percent. The average duration of cold symptoms was reduced by 70 percent, from five days to just 1.5 days. It also has antioxidants and has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Be cautious of garlic when taking blood thinners.
Season soup with sea salt, as it is a good source of minerals and electrolytes that help the body stay hydrated. The amount of nutrients in sea salt allows one to hold body fluids longer. Add black pepper for antioxidant properties that include improving digestion, cough and cold relief, and for a metabolism boost. For Oriental flair, infuse the soup with ginger and turmeric, known for numerous benefits.
Dr. Jimmy’s Galvez Tan’s parting words: Take chicken soup both for preventive and curative purposes. It is best to use organic chicken with no hormones, no steroids and no antibiotics. You may use native organic chickens, too. At this time, it is best to make soup with a lot of onions!
Here’s my phlegm-fighting chicken soup recipe, with Dr. Jimmy’s approval, of course.
4 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
¾ to 1 kg organic chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
8 c water
3 large onions, approximately 3 c, chopped
2 Tbsp garlic, pounded
1 c celery, diced
1 c carrots, diced
1 tsp whole peppercorns
½ tsp sea salt
In a pot, add oil, and then brown chicken pieces. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery. If making Oriental or Filipino-style soup, add 2 whole pieces sliced turmeric and 6 pieces sliced ginger. Cook while mixing for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are caramelized. To develop flavor, do not cut this process short.
Add peppercorns and sea salt. You may add herbs such as thyme and oregano, if you wish, at this time. Do not add thyme and oregano for Oriental and Filipino variations.
Add water. Bring soup to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Soup must yield 5-6 cups. Season to taste with salt, pepper. You may add some liquid seasoning for a tastier end product.
For chicken noodle soup, add 60-100 uncooked spaghetti, cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths or fideos, and cook until done. If you wish, add cabbage and bok choy, and finish with green onions or parsley. For Oriental flavor, add fish balls and bok choy and finish with cilantro sprigs. You may season with soy sauce instead. For a Filipino twist, add kamote tops, sweet potato tops, kolitis/uray (amaranth), malunggay leaves, saluyot leaves and dahon ng sili. Season soup with fish sauce instead.
These are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and prebiotics to increase immunity.
For consultation with Dr. Jimmy Galvez Tan, tel. 0921-2057524
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