The Diet Detective: Disease-Fighting Chicken Vegetable Soup

Does chicken soup deserve its reputation as a disease fighter and cure for whatever ails you? Well, first let's talk about the soup's overall health benefits, which include significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese, antioxidants, a tremendous amount of fiber and--if you happen to be watching your weight--the ability to fill you up. Because soups have a water base, they tend to make you feel less hungry, and you eat less as a result.

Now, in terms of chicken soup's reputation as a cold and flu remedy--Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher and physician, wrote about its healing properties as far back as the 12th century. In modern times, Stephen Rennard, M.D., a researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, found that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the symptoms of upper-respiratory infections (including colds).

While Rennard and his team were not able to find the exact ingredients that created the effect of the chicken soup, they did find that the movement of neutrophils ­white blood cells--was reduced, and, as a result, inflammation in the upper-respiratory tract that causes the symptoms of a cold was reduced. Of course, other researchers have theorized that merely inhaling steam while eating soup raises the temperature of the airways and helps relax secretions. And drinking liquids also increases hydration, which in turn eases cold symptoms. 

More: 3 Foods to Treat Your Cold

So, without further ado, here is a fantastic recipe for a healing chicken soup that I've been making and eating for years.

Serves 20


4 parsnips
1 bunch Italian parsley
6 large carrots
1 bunch fresh dill
10 large stalks celery
4 large onions
2 turnips
4 leeks
1 bunch broccoli
8 cloves garlic
2 whole chicken breasts with skin and bones
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium, no-MSG chicken broth
1 ounce garlic powder
1 ounce onion powder
3 tablespoons pepper
3 tablespoons salt