Is Chicken Soup the Ultimate Cold Medicine?

Chicken & Rice Soup

Chicken & Rice Soup

Is chicken soup the ultimate cold medicine?

Since the beginning of winter not a day has gone by without hearing someone has a cold including my loved ones.  Sneezing, sniffles and coughing are the norm this winter.  I have searched for the perfect cold remedy and  I believe it is chicken soup at least that is what I remember my Nana saying.

There are many treatments for the common cold. Perhaps no solution is more utilized than a hot bowl of chicken soup. People have chased away chills and sniffles with rich broth and savory vegetables for centuries. But is chicken soup really the miracle medicine upon which so many rely?  Chicken soup has long been touted for its ability to treat a cold. As far back as the 12th century, Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides recommended it for colds. Although it would seem that chicken soupbeing good for colds is simply an old wives’ tale, there is really something substantial to the claims.

Any hot liquid or beverage can soothe throats that are sore from coughing or a postnasal drip from colds. Liquids in any form can help prevent dehydration and slow down runny noses, which exacerbate congestion and sinus pain. In 1978, researchers published a study in the journal Chest stated that sipping chicken soup or even just hot water could help clear clogged nasal passages.

Another benefit to chicken soup is its nutritional value. Most recipes for chicken soup include many different vegetables — from carrots to celery to leeks to even leafy greens, like spinach. The inclusion of the vegetables helps increase the nutritional value of the soup, particularly the antioxidants in the meal. Antioxidants, such as vitamins and minerals in produce, can help improve the immune system response of the body. According to WebMD, adding fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. Some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables — especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Therefore, be sure to add these colors to your cold-fighting soup.

Additional studies have shown that chicken soup is a great cold reliever. In 2000, researchers at the University of Nebraska exposed neutrophils, white blood cells that fight infections, but also may cause inflammation, to diluted chicken broth. These cells slowed their movement, which would help reduce some symptoms of colds. Although a family recipe was used for the study, other soups were tested, and most store-purchased chicken soups worked the same way.

The majority of the symptoms from colds are caused not by the cold virus itself, but by the body’s response and fight against the invading virus. Many of these effects, like clogged noses and headaches, are some sort of inflammation. Therefore any food that can reduce inflammation may have cold-fighting benefits as well.

Although chicken soup may not eliminate all cold symptoms, it has enough beneficial properties to alleviate many complaints from colds. My Nana was right, after all: Chicken soup is good for the cold, not just the soul.

Easy Chicken and Rice Soup from Two Peas & Their


  1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1 medium onion, chopped

  2 garlic cloves, minced

  2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

  2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

  4 fresh thyme sprigs

  1 bay leaf

  2 quarts chicken stock or broth (we use low sodium)

  1 cup of water

  1 cup long grain white rice

  1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts

  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions: Place a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and water- bring the liquid to a boil. Add in the rice and chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low until the rice is tender-about 30 minutes. Serve hot.



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