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Healthy Cooking: Ward off the sniffles with this chicken soup

Feel better, faster, with nourishing chicken soup.
Feel better, faster, with nourishing chicken soup.



Right around this time of year, my teens get really germy, like petri dishes with insatiable appetites. I think it’s because students return to school with bugs they picked up over winter break, and they pass them to one another in the worst gift exchange ever. Believe me when I tell you that I cannot keep my children at home one more day. I can NOT. So I nag them to wash their hands, go to bed earlier than they’d like, and at the first sign of a sniffle, I make a pot of ginger and bok choy chicken soup.

Chicken broth is every grandmother’s favorite medicine. Why? It’s technically a clear liquid, which means you get much-needed fluids that are easy to digest. It’s hot, with steam that opens your nasal passages. And like chicken itself, chicken broth is a generous source of protein. (My soup has a whopping 13 grams of body-strengthening protein per serving.) Don’t worry if you’re too busy pumping hand sanitizer to make your broth from scratch. Boxed broth works just fine, particularly if you purchase one labeled “low sodium.” It will help keep your salt intake, and your blood pressure, in check. Vegans are welcome to substitute vegetable broth in this recipe. The amount of protein in veggie broth can vary, though, so read the product labels to determine your most nutritious option.

Toss rough-chopped carrots, celery and onions into the pot of broth. This virtuous veggie trio infuses your broth with fortifying vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, B, C and K and potassium. A handful of aromatics add flavor and an immune-system boost. Garlic has natural antiviral properties, and can help reduce sick time. Ginger treats nausea; purchase a knob of fresh ginger in your produce aisle for the best taste. Add a shake of ground turmeric powder for a dose of curcumin, an anti-inflammatory.

And then, to make the soup a little more interesting (and richer in antioxidants), I add baby bok choy. Bok choy leaves taste like kinder, gentler collard greens. Wilt them in the fortified broth just before serving. The bok choy stems, though, are a bit of a challenge. I don’t want to waste them, but a bowl full of stems is hardly inviting. My solution: Cook the stems with the veggie trio, coax their nutrients into the broth, and throw them away like a used tissue.

As written, this soup is light. As light as this prescription from your Healthy Cooking columnist: Sip it from a mug while watching Netflix under a comforter. It’s just the thing when you need nourishment, and even chewing takes too much effort. If you’re enjoying the soup as a preventative measure, make it heartier with the addition of noodles and chopped tofu or cooked chicken. Obviously, if you or your people are feeling really rotten, skip the vegetable voodoo and visit your doctor. But if the doctor recommends soup, you know what to make.


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