Monday, December 5, 2016

One of America's Favorites - Chicken Soup

A classic preparation of chicken noodle soup 

Chicken soup is a soup made from chicken, simmered in water, usually with various other ingredients. The classic chicken soup consists of a clear chicken broth, often with pieces of chicken or vegetables; common additions are pasta, dumplings, or grains such as rice and barley. Chicken soup has acquired the reputation of a folk remedy for colds and influenza, and in many countries is considered a comfort food.

Variations on the flavor are gained by adding root vegetables such as parsnip, potato, sweet potato and celery root, herbs such as parsley, dill, other vegetables such as zucchini, whole garlic cloves or tomatoes and black pepper. The soup should be brought slowly to a boil and then simmered in a covered pot on a very low flame for one to three hours, adding water if necessary. A clearer broth is achieved by skimming the drops of fat off the top of the soup as it is cooking, first bringing the chicken to boil from a pot of cold water and discarding the water before continuing, or straining it through a strainer or cheesecloth. Saffron or turmeric are sometimes added as a yellow colorant. Then, the chicken can be shredded by hand and stored in the refrigerator until ready for use in the soup.

Chicken soup can be a relatively low fat food: fat can be removed by chilling the soup after cooking and skimming the layer of congealed fat from the top. A study determined that "prolonged cooking of a bone in soup increases the calcium content of the soup when cooked at an acidic, but not at a neutral pH".

Several terms are used when referring to chicken soups:
Homemade chicken noodle soup 

* Chicken stock is a liquid in which chicken bones and vegetables have been simmered for the purpose of serving as an ingredient in more complex dishes. Chicken stock is not usually served as is. Stock can be made with less palatable parts of the chicken, such as feet, necks or bones: the higher bone content in these parts contributes more gelatin to the liquid, making it a better base for sauces. Stock can be reboiled and reused as the basis for a new stock. Bouillon cubes or soup base are often used instead of chicken stock prepared from scratch.
* Chicken broth is the liquid part of chicken soup. Broth can be served as is, or used as stock, or served as soup with noodles. Broth can be milder than stock, does not need to be boiled as long, and can be made with meatier chicken parts.
* Chicken bouillon or bouillon de poulet is the French term for chicken broth.
* Chicken consommé is a more refined chicken broth. It is usually strained to perfect clarity, and reduced to concentrate it.
* Chicken stew is a more substantial dish with a higher ratio of solids to broth. The broth may also be thickened toward a gravy-like consistency with a roux or by adding flour-based dumplings (matzah balls do not have the same thickening effect).
* While any soup in which chicken has been simmered or with a chicken stock base is, strictly speaking, a chicken soup, chicken soup, unless qualified, implies that the soup is served as a thin broth, possibly with pieces of meat, vegetables, noodles, rice or dumplings.
* Cream of Chicken Soup is a thick, creamy soup made with chicken stock and pieces combined with milk and/or cream and flour which may or may not contain vegetable pieces, depending on the recipe.

Chicken soup has long been touted as a form of folk medicine to treat symptoms of the common cold
Cream of Chicken Soup
and related conditions. In 2000, scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha studied the effect of chicken soup on the inflammatory response in vitro. They found that some components of the chicken soup inhibit neutrophil migration, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness. However, since these results have been obtained from purified cells (and directly applied), the diluted soup in vivo effect is debatable. The New York Times reviewed the University of Nebraska study, among others, in 2007 and concluded that "none of the research is conclusive, and it is not known whether the changes measured in the laboratory really have a meaningful effect on people with cold symptoms."

It has also been shown that chicken soup contains the Amino acid cysteine, which is very similar to acetylcysteine, which is used by doctors for patients with bronchitis and other respiratory infections to help clear them.

Chicken noodle soup is also known as "Jewish penicillin", either as ersatz penicillin, or as alternative to penicillin.

In the United States and Canada, chicken soup often has noodles or rice in it, thus giving it its common name of "chicken noodle soup." The term may have been coined in a commercial for the Campbell Soup Company in the 1930s. The original 21 varieties of Campbell's condensed soup featured a "chicken soup with noodles", but when it was advertised on the Amos 'n' Andy radio show in the 1930s by a slip of the tongue the soup was referred to as "chicken noodle soup". Traditionally, American chicken soup was prepared using old hens too tough and stringy to be roasted or cooked for a short time. In modern times, these fowl are difficult to come by, and broiler chickens (young chickens suitable for roasting or broiling) are often used to make soup.

Canned chicken soup
Typically sold as a condensed soup, canned chicken soup such as Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup is notable for its high sodium content, 890 mg per 1/2 cup serving, giving a 1 1/2 cup bowl of soup about 2,500 mg, a full days allowance in the case of the mainstream brand, Campbell's. Other condensed chicken soups such as Chicken with Rice or Chicken & Stars Soup produced by Campbell have similar amounts, as do generic versions of the product. Canned chicken soup with much less sodium than the traditional formulation is available, including many varieties produced by Campbell's, some with at little as 100 mg of sodium. Campbell's claims production of a chicken noodle soup that will find broad consumer acceptance, in short, that will sell, is very difficult.

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