THE magical curative properties of Jewish penicillin — chicken soup — is the stuff of legend — and of Jewish jokes. And if we believe it, perhaps it works. There’s no doubt that a steaming mug of hot, tasty liquid, served with TLC makesus feel better, writes Roz Crowley.
And don’t forget the simple comforts of wrapping up in a warm dressing gown in a warm room or bed with the opportunity to snooze uninterrupted if feeling under the weather.
As a potential cure, fluids should be low in salt to avoid retaining bugs. When making chicken broth ourselves, we don’t need salt. Simply boil a carcass with a stick of celery, a carrot, onion (skin on), two cloves of garlic (skin on and given a bash with a rolling pin), a few parsley stalks, 3 branches of thyme, 1 bay leaf, and a few whole peppercorns for two hours.
Ideally, allow it to cool so the fat can be skimmed off the top. This will keep in the ‘fridge for a week or boil up every day to kill any bacteria.
It freezes well too. I pour mine into ice-cube bags to add a shot to stews, pasta dishes, and soups. There are various forms of chicken stock available, so watch on the chill counters of food shops for cartons of fresh broth. Stock cubes are often salty, so be careful if the aim is to cure.
Marks & Spencer Spicy Oriental Chicken Broth 600g €3.90
A silky broth with shellfish, crab, lobster and mussel stock, it includes 4% sliced chicken breast, 3.5% rice noodles, 3.5% endamame (soya) beans. Tasters loved the fiery mix of red chillies, ginger, balanced with tamarind, lime and lemon grass – an authentic South East Asia blend resembling a hot and sour soup. Provides a curative warm sensation. 0.75% salt is high enough. The favourite of adult tasters.
Aldi Specially Selected Chicken and Vegetable soup 400g €1.49
With 5% chicken breast, carrot, potato, pea, onion, celery and cream, the texture is light and even, with no chunks. Salt at 0.65% is moderate. Tastes home-made, made in Ireland.
Tesco Chicken & Vegetable 600g €3.49
A light chicken stock is the base for 6% chicken with 30% vegetables – carrot, swede, onion potato, parsnip, leek and celery which have a nice bite. Pearl barley adds weight, while herbs – sage and thyme – and garlic added further flavour. Tastes home-made. Salt is 0.5%.
Heinz Soup of the Day Chicken, Parsnip and Rosemary 400g €1.99
With 22% parsnip, this is the flavour that dominates, but the chicken stock balances it, along with 3% chicken, celeriac, onion, leek and celery. Cornflour is used to thicken, but not excessively. The nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, rosemary and turmeric make a low-key appearance. 0.5% salt.
Fusion and Street A Taste of Mumbai 400g €2
Delicately flavoured, the balance of gentle spicing with garam masala, coriander, turmeric, cardamom with the creaminess of tomato, red pepper and coconut milk is just right. Not too heavy, 4% chicken breast gives it enough chew without being chunky. 0.5% salt is fair enough. While there is rice in it, I would use this on a low energy night as a sauce for serving with rice or dipping with bread. From Kilkenny Food Company.
Dunnes Stores Chicken & Ramen Noodle Soup 500g €2
At 8%, chicken content is relatively high, with 8% sweetcorn, soya beans, 7% coconut milk and 3% noodles in a chicken stock. The chilli, turmeric, ginger, lime and garlic are very muted. Salt at 0.5% is fair. With too much sweetcorn for two tasters, the consensus was bland but pleasant.
Cully & Sully Cleansing Chicken Broth 500g €3.49
With 6% chicken, 4% each peas, leeks, carrots and courgettes, some celery, green cabbage, spring onion and kale, this reads like a cleanser. With salt at 0.3% and no additives, it worked for us. The texture is watery as a pure broth should be, devoid of thickeners so gluten free, though a few suggested croutons would make a delicious addition. Overall taste is delicate. The best of the bunch for a curative beverage.
SuperValu Chicken & Vegetable 400g €1.99
Heavier on carrots, potatoes and onions than some other samples, and none the worse for that, with 5% chicken blended to an even texture. Nicely creamy, tasters liked it.
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