The saying chicken soup is good for the soul is one I’ve always loved. What’s funny about that phrase is that when you Google it what pops up the most in the search is Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, two motivational speakers who, in 1993, had the simple idea that people could help each other by sharing stories about their lives.
Canfield and Hanson took their stories and went on to write, Chicken Soup for the Soul. This book quickly became one of the most popular and cherished books ever published, selling millions of copies worldwide. Canfield and Hansen titled their famous book such because they simply wanted their book to “soothe and provide comfort, just like their grandmothers’ cooking”.
Many grandmothers I know have long preached the belief that chicken soup is great for healing a cold, but now research is actually backing up those claims. Researchers have frequently taken a closer look at the potential health benefits of chicken soup in an attempt to understand why it’s such an effective tonic at treating/healing the common cold. Below are some of those findings and it’s rather convincing.
- A 1990’s report found that soup broth may help improve the function of cilia in the nose. The cilia is what helps prevent contagions from getting into the body.
- Hot fluids have long been beloved to help to relieve stuffiness and congestion.
- Chicken soup is also believed to help reduce inflammation, which often results as the immune system works to fight the cold virus.
Connected to the health benefits of chicken soup, studies, referenced in an issue of Psychological Science I stumbled upon recently, show that comfort food, like Canfield and Hanson believe, actually brings up associations of positive relationships and makes us feel comfort and less alone.
In one study conducted volunteers who thought of chicken noodle soup as comfort food had greater access to relationship related words when they ate a bowl of the soup. I found this fascinating. In a second experiment, volunteers who had secure attachment styles and wrote about comfort foods, did not feel as lonely. Whether it’s chicken soup, mashed potatoes, or chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven, comfort food nourishes our hunger and fills our need to belong.
Truthfully, chicken orzo soup is one of my favorite healing soups that is soothing and comforting in the winter months. Like a great chocolate chip cookie, most people have their go-to chicken soup recipe, so trying another can often come with trepidation. But I encourage you to do it anyway. My chicken orzo soup is an uncomplicated one that delivers a sensational result. I add orzo to my soup as an alternative to large noodles which I feel creates a richer, almost creamier mouth feel from the pasta starch. Finishing this comfort food with a splash of lemon juice gives it a nice bright, slightly acidic flavor I love. Whether it’s comfort for seeking or a stubborn cold you just can’t shake, give this chicken orzo soup a go and feel the healing from inside.
Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup celery, small dice
- 1/2 cup carrots, small dice
- 1/3 cup shallots, minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 6 cups good quality chicken broth (I use my chicken matzo ball soup quick broth for this recipe)
- 1 pound chicken breasts, but into thin 2-inch long pieces
- 1/2 cup orzo
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Step 1 In a large Dutch oven add the butter and olive oil and place over a medium flame. When hot, add the celery, carrots and shallots and sauté until tender, about minutes.Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the flour and cook for another minute.
- Step 2 Add the chicken broth and stir until the flour has dissolved, add the chicken. Bring the soup to a boil.
- Step 3 Cover the soup, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Step 4 Add the orzo and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo and chicken is cooked through.
- Step 5 Add the lemon juice (you may want to add more than I suggest Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley an serve right away.