Cold, cough, body aches, headache, sore throat … whether caught from kindergarten, work, shopping or anywhere – these annoying’s often caused by viruses are never welcome! When the first symptoms occur, I take out my big soup pot and prepare chicken soup. It is not only tasty, it comforts too. Even if you feel very weak and miserable due to high fever, you are able to take a few sip. Children also like it, especially if you serve it with noodles or some sort of dumplings.
Chicken soup relieves the symptoms of colds and flu infections as it is nutritious, strengthens, warms and moisturizes the mucous membranes. It leads to inhibition of the motility of neutrophilic blood cells and thus limits an excessive inflammatory response of the mucous membranes. This anti-inflammatory effect is further strengthened due high concentrations of cysteine and zinc.
For the soup I use parts the of chicken which are usually left over in most meals such as: collar, back, feet including claws, wings, bones, stomach, heart and liver. So if you buy a whole chicken, put these parts aside and freeze them. I love to make use of everything; that’s my nose-to-tail-philosophy. Sure, you can also use every part of the chicken to cook a soup, even a whole one. To increase the amount of cysteine in the soup I add chest meat. Even though there is no scientific explanation (so far ;-)) for the use of feet with claws, they are said to have near-magical healing powers. Our grandmothers always did it that way. And in China, the claws are even an expensive delicacy!
Preparing the soup
Cut onions (with skin) in half, roast with the cut end down in a big pot with oil until it gets brown (gives good flavor). Then quickly add the water and put in the chicken parts. Let it boil until gray foam is visible on the surface. Reduce heat so that it is just simmering (if it is boiling too wild the foam mixes with the rest of the soup and makes it murky). Skim off the foam until there is no more foam formed. Then add the vegetables and spices and make sure that everything is covered with water. Let the soup simmer for 3 hours (at least 2 hours, more than three is totally fine). Always keep an eye on the pot to be sure there is enough liquid in it. Take out the meat and all veggies (accept the onions) and pour the soup through a fine sieve and squeeze the rest in the sieve a little with a spoon. Add seasoning to the soup. Take all the meat from the bones and the vegetables and cut them all in pieces.
Basically, it is now ready to serve! Now you can add noodles or any other garnish.
If you want to get more spermidine in your soup add peas, little cauliflower florets or the cooked chicken liver. You can either cook the peas and cauliflower florets separately in salted water or put them now in the soup pot and cook for a few minutes.
Other “doughy” garnishes Austrians like to add to the soup, are “Grießnockerl”, which are kind of semolina dumplings or “Frittaten”, which are basically thin pancakes that are cut into strips, or “Eierschöberl”, which are little choux pastry dumplings.
For the choux pastry put the water with the butter, salt and nutmeg in a pot and let it come to boil. Then add the flour and backing powder and stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides and forms a smooth ball. Turn down the heat and “stir” for another minute. Remove from the heat and let it cool down for a few minutes (it can be warm but now hot). Add the eggs (one at a time) and mix well after every egg. Keep mixing until it is a smooth and glossy paste (it is a little workout ;-)). Put the dough into a piping bag (1 cm round nozzle) and pipe small mounds onto backing paper (~ 3 cm). Ensure that they are well spaced as they grow a little during baking. Bake 15 minutes at 180 °C in the oven.
1 Tablespoon oil
1 big (or 2 small) onions with skin
Chicken meat and bone as well as inner pure as needed
2-3 l water
3 bigger carrots
½ small celeriac (optionally also celery)
1 small leek (or even the outer leaves that you can not use otherwise)
1 parsley root or some parsley
1 small parsnip
1 leaf of lovage (or some seeds or a piece of stalk)
2 laurel leaves
3 juniper berries
10 fennel seeds
1 piece of ginger (about 2cm thick slice)
Salt to taste
Peas or cauliflower (optional)
For the choux pastry dumplings:
100 ml of water
45 g of butter
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg
80 g of flour
½ tsp baking powder