Friday, February 22, 2008

Nature's age-old cure really works

The month of February has been extraordinarily busy for our local medical professionals. Here at the paper, there's been a revolving door of sick reporters, cranky editors wondering when their sick reporters would be back to work, and another cadre of healthy folks who look askance at anyone coughing, sneezing or green.

All this brings to mind the age-old tradition of Jewish grandmothers everywhere: Chicken soup can cure anything.

Think it's bunk? (My husband does, so it's understandable if you do, too.)

Think again.

A few years back, the University of Nebraska actually analyzed the ingredients and components of homemade chicken soup. And if you can't believe a study from America's vaunted Heartland, whom can you trust?

The study looked at chicken soup made the way God intended it to be made. Take one chicken and put it in a pot. Cover it with water. Add a few ribs of celery, a couple of carrots, an onion. Simmer for several hours. Then remove the chicken, cut the meat off the bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Get rid of the vegetables; they've given their all. You'll dice a few more carrots, a bit more celery and onion, then add that and the chicken back to the broth. Toss in some thyme, a bay leaf, a little salt and pepper. Simmer until the carrots are tender, and add noodles if you want (and who wouldn't want?).

Anyway, the researchers at Nebraska determined that the broth made from cooking chicken and vegetables was a potent, vitamin-rich elixir that, indeed, could boost the body's healing systems. They studied canned soup, but it lost much of its punch simply because so much sodium was used, and the vegetables weren't as fresh.

My point, and I do have one, is that the phrase "A chicken in every pot" need not be a campaign slogan from the Depression. It could also help cures what ails ye. If you use the new, less-cardboard-like whole-wheat noodles, then that's even better.