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A chicken soup recipe that will warm you from the inside out

Peruvian chicken soup. Picture: Stacy Zari Goldberg

Peruvian chicken soup. Picture: Stacy Zari Goldberg

Published May 18, 2022


Chicken soup is the ideal comfort food that nourishes the body as well as the soul, but do you know how and why?

Speaking to dietitian and nutritionist Isabel Maples, she gives some clarity on the benefits of chicken soup.

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“Chicken soup may be good for the soul. More importantly, it may very well be what Dr Mom orders when we’re sick. Will it cure a cold or shorten the flu? No. Still, it might make us feel a little better while we’re recuperating,” says Maples.

Isabel Maples explains:

  • Chicken soup may relieve inflammation that makes us feel so stuffy when we have a cold or flu. One researcher showed that chicken soup could inhibit a certain type of white blood cell, neutrophils. Neutrophils gobble up bacteria and stimulate mucus production. However, since most colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria, the white blood cells don’t work as well and may bring more inflammation than relief. Chicken soup can mitigate the movement of the neutrophils, which means less stuffiness. The same research showed that chicken soup did a better job than hot water in improving the function of cilia- tiny hair-like processes that line the inside of the nose to sweep out infection in the first place.
  • Chicken soup, even when chock full of veggies, is usually rather bland and easy to digest. Simple can feel so good when we’re sick. And if it appeals to us, and then we actually eat it, we can benefit from its goodness. The noodles can help our bellies feel satisfied. The veggies usually offer vitamins A and C, plus antioxidants, and the chicken offers a little protein, all of which can help boost the immune system.

That said, here’s a chicken soup recipe that will warm you up from the inside out.

Peruvian chicken soup

Serves: 2


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1 small onion

1 rib celery

1 clove garlic

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1 small jalapeño pepper

8 stems of flat-leaf parsley (may substitute cilantro)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

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2 cups chicken broth, preferably no-salt-added

¼ cup dried quinoa

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast half (tenderloin detached)

½ cup frozen peas (optional)

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 limes, for serving


Peel the onion and cut it into quarters. Coarsely chop the celery. Peel the garlic and cut the flesh of the jalapeño away from its seed core, discarding the latter. Add those 4 ingredients to a blender or mini food processor, along with the parsley (leaves and tender stems) and oil; pulse to create a paste-like consistency. (If the mixture proves difficult to break down, add a few tablespoons of the broth to get things moving.)

Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan or pot over medium heat. Cook for a minute, stir and then add the broth. Rinse the quinoa, if needed (read the package directions), and then add it to the pan. Once the mixture starts to bubble, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken crosswise into 5 or 6 pieces, adding them to the pot as you work. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the chicken and quinoa are cooked through; the quinoa will thicken and look "popped open," thickening the soup.

Use tongs to transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board; use two forks to shred the meat, then return it to the pot, along with the peas, if used. Once the peas are heated through and tender, taste and season the soup with salt and pepper, as needed.

Cut the limes into wedges. Serve the soup hot, with some lime for each portion.

Adapted from a recipe in "The Midlife Kitchen," by Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice (Mitchell Beazley, 2017).