Updated: Feb 24, 2019
I was given a bowl of healing soup by a friend when I was severely ill, and ever since then have been using this recipe for my family AND whenever I make soup to share with someone else who is ill. It is quite literally the best bowl of chicken soup I've ever tasted. And each time I deliver it to someone new, it is inevitably followed by a request for the recipe. Though at first glance it may sound time consuming, once you've made it a time or two, it really is quite easy. And I personally attribute my making it through this horrible Charlotte cold and flu season successfully so far (fingers crossed) to this soup.
The reason that this soup is so particularly delicious and healing is that it starts with a whole organic chicken. I let it cook long enough to allow the collagen and healthy proteins to seep out of the chicken tissue and bones to form bone broth. If you haven't heard of bone broth before, it is a liquid made from brewed bones and connective tissues. You can make bone broth from cow, chicken, and even fish bones. Drinking bone broth is not only beneficial for the joints and digestive system, but also supports the immune system and helps improve skin and hair.
Benefits of bone broth
1. It is highly nutritious
Bones themselves are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. And brewing connective tissue into bone broth provides the body with natural compounds from the cartilage. Tissues and bones also contain collagen. Cooking collagen turns it to gelatin, which provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. In addition, bone marrow is rich in nutrients such as iron, vitamins A, fatty acids, selenium, zinc, and manganese.
2. It helps reduce inflammation and heal the gut
Bone broth is full of amino acids, like proline and glutamine, which are the building blocks that aid in maintaining digestive system health, and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Studies have shown that glutamine helps heal the intestinal barrier. This may help with conditions such as leaky gut, during which irritation of the mucosal lining in the intestines interferes with the body's ability to digest food and absorb nutrients appropriately. Drinking bone broth is a simple way to get these anti-inflammatory amino acids into the body. In addition, it's easily digestible by your system and, unlike more complex food sources, its healing properties promote gut health as you easily absorb its vitamins and minerals.
3. It boosts the immune system
When the gut is restored, natural immune responses are re-established. Not only that, but bone broth has been linked to improved mood, energy levels, and healthy sleep. These all contribute to keeping your body in top-notch shape, which can prevent common ailments.
4. It aids sleep
The amino acids in bone broth promotes better sleep. Studies have shown that people who take the amino acid glycine before going to sleep often feel that they sleep better and have less fatigue during the following day. Drinking bone broth is a simple means to provide this glycine. It is also contains magnesium, which is much more bioavailable in bone broth than a magnesium supplement.
5. It supports weight loss efforts
Bone broth may also help people lose weight. It is high in protein, which helps the body feel fuller for longer and supports calorie restriction. Drinking bone broth or making a simple soup is a beneficial way to add more protein to the diet and feel more satisfied with a meal without consuming too many calories.
6. It helps protect the joints
Bone broth is a source of gelatin, which breaks down into collagen in the body. This is especially important for joints. Cartilage in the joints tends to wear down or shrink through continual use and aging. Studies have shown that gelatin increases the amount of collagen in the tissues. Consuming bone broth is a good way to add gelatin to the diet, which helps protect joints.
7. It encourages healthy skin and hair
Collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining skin elasticity and preventing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Collagen also promotes healthy hair and nail growth. Bone broth also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps skin maintain moisture (and is also the primary ingredient in many anti-aging beauty products).
Recipe: (I typically try to buy all organic ingredients for this)
1 whole organic chicken (Costco regularly has these at a descent price)
Kosher salt and pepper
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1/2 bunch of green onions
1/2 bunch of cilantro
optional: avocados, diced tomatoes, tortilla strips OR egg noodles
Skin chicken except for wings. Place in large soup pot and fill to 1 inch from the top (ensure that the entire chicken is well covered). Add garlic, salt and pepper. Cook on medium high for 30 minutes. Add vegetables and cook on medium until chicken falls apart (this takes about another 1.5 hours, however, I usually let the chicken bones cook for at least a total of 4 hours to get all of the benefits of bone broth; add more water throughout the process if needed, though not too much as to dilute the flavor). Add green onions and cilantro just before soup is done. My children like theirs with noodles, so I usually add a 1/2 cup of egg noodles about 10 minutes before the soup is done. I, however, prefer mine without noodles, and with the addition of avocados, tomatoes, and tortilla chips when served.
You'll know that you've cooked your bone broth long enough by this simple test: after refrigerating your left over soup, it should have a gelatinous texture. Don't worry, it will liquefy again upon heating.
Enjoy testing out this recipe and feel free to make it your own!