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Commentary: Chicken soup for the soul--and also for the flu

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Any reason that I thought the flu shot I got in January, 2013, would still suffice for February, 2014, escapes me. My bad.

But fortunately, this simple recipe for chicken soup did not escape me during a week of reading Agatha Christie mysteries, surfing the web, and lying low.

Just in case you also forgot your shot or are waiting (not a good idea) for the vaccine that is supposed to kill all flu strains, here is the universal panacea for all things respiratory:

  • 1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds
  • Celery ribs with the leaves on, about 6 or 7 cut in 4-5 inch lengths
  • Carrots, whole organic juice carrots, about 2 large, sliced in medallions
  • Large yellow cooking onion, 1, peeled and cut in quarters
  • Salt, about 1 teaspoon to start, adjusted later
  • White pepper, sprinkle, adjusted later

Scald chicken inside and out, and discard innards. (The liver is great to broil and eat while you are cooking the rest of the soup!) Wash the vegetables well.

Place the chicken in a 5-quart pot and add the vegetables, salt and pepper. Cover all with cold tap water, and cover the pot tightly. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim the surface, and turn the heat down so the soup just simmers for about an hour and a half.

Refrigerate with the chicken and vegetables still in the pot overnight for added flavor. The next day, remove the chicken to a heat-proof dish, strain the vegetables out, and bring the soup to the boil again. Slice the carrots and return them to the soup.

Correct the seasoning, and serve very hot over noodles, rice, kreplach, or matzoh balls. Serve the chicken in sandwiches, chicken salad, or pot pies.

Linda Chalmer Zemel also writes the Buffalo Books column and teaches at SUNY Buffalo State College. She is the author of the new children’s book, Cousins, available on and, and the novel, Witch Hunt, available on Kindle.



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