Chicken Soup Good For What Ails You

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - January 04, 2012
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Everyone knows the old adage that chicken soup cures all ills. After the holidays and party-going, a big pot of chicken soup is probably just what the doctor ordered. Rich in vegetables, this soup is delicious as a main dish with the addition of a green salad and some nice crusty rolls or bread.

Believed to have originated in central Asia, leeks have been known since antiquity and are mentioned in the Bible. They were cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and thought to have been introduced into Great Britain by the Romans. Held in high esteem by the Celts, they are regarded as the “national vegetable” of Wales.

Leeks have a delicate flavor that is milder than onions. The white part of the leek is more tender and is usually used in cooking as it adds a subtle touch without overpowering other flavors. The green part is often used to add flavor to broths and stews, or can substitute for shallots or chives.

When purchasing, look for leeks that are straight, firm and intact. They should have bright green tops and be free of brown patches.

Store leeks in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but once cooked they will keep for about two days if refrigerated.

Raw leeks are an excellent source of folic acid, and a good source of iron and potassium. They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and copper. Leeks are said to be diuretic, laxative and anti-arthritic. They also are known for their cleansing effect on the digestive system.


* 1 chicken, quartered, skin removed
* 3 1/2 quarts water
* 1 leek, sliced
* 2 parsnips, sliced
* 2 onions, chopped
* 2 celery stalks with leaves
* 1/2 bunch dill tied in a bundle with white thread
* 4 parsley sprigs
* 3 carrots, sliced
* 1 whole garlic clove
* 1 can chicken broth (use low-sodium and no MSG broth)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste

Place chicken in an 8to 10-quart pot. Add water, bring to a boil and skim.

Add onions, leek, celery, salt and pepper. Return to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is almost tender. Add chicken broth, carrots, parsley and parsnips; simmer, covered, 30 minutes more or until chicken and vegetables are tender.

Remove bones and skim fat. Remove dill bundle and press the juices into the soup.

Serve in bowls as is, or with rice or noodles.

Makes eight main-dish servings.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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