One of the BEST cold and flu remedies is chicken soup! I think it is healing in some mysterious ways...
I once went to visit a good friend of mine and showed up with a sore throat. She had been making chicken soup, and after eating some as well as laughing with her for hours, I left feeling so much better. I don't know what in her chicken soup healed me- I’m sure the laughter helped- but I'm showcasing it as one of the best cold and flu remedies I know because that's how it has made me feel.
Years ago I took a class with Betzy Bancroft (co-director of the Vermont Center of Integrative Herbalism in Montpelier) on making broth to support the immune system. She taught me about incorporating immune boosting herbs and mushrooms, like astragalus, codonopsis, shiitake, reishi, and turkey tail into my recipes. Astragalus is generally used before one gets sick to strengthen one's whole system, physically and energetically. Reishi mushrooms are another immune-boosting addition to broth, but they can add bitterness so I don’t add too much. I have made broth with and without these immune boosting additions and I find it healing either way.
I also make my broth the way that nutritionist Sally Fallon recommends. She has a note in her book Nourishing Traditions “that Jewish folklore considers the addition of chicken feet the secret to successful chicken broth.” For years I made broth without chicken feet because I found them difficult to come by. This is the first winter I am actually making my broth with chicken feet! I finally found some from a local farmer who raises chickens as meat birds, who I was already purchasing meat from. I agree with this Jewish folklore because the chicken broth I’ve made without feet is nourishing and tasty but misses the gelatin quality (which makes sense because a chicken’s feet are the part of the animal that has the most ligaments and movable joints, where there is a lot of gelatin). I have noticed when I am eating chicken broth with a lot of gelatin, my digestion functions more smoothly. I’ve also noticed that my joints feel more flexible and less stiff, so I think these are just some of the healing properties of gelatin and I’m sure there’s a lot more we don’t even know about.
I included a video here on how I like to process chicken feet because it's hard to describe in words. I’d like to add to this video that if you put chicken feet in boiling water for too long (in my case it was only about 20 seconds) the membrane actually cooks to the feet and makes it really, really difficult to remove. Though with practice you’ll be able to feel out the right timing by the feel of the feet.
What You’ll Need:
Leftover chicken bones after roasting a chicken (Backs, necks, wings, breastbones, legs)
2 to 8 chicken feet (if possible)
4 quarts water
1 large onion
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
3” to 6” piece of chopped ginger (optional)
A small handful of astragalus root and/or codonopsis root (optional)
Shitake, turkey tails, and/or reishi (optional)
Fresh thyme (optional)
Salt to taste
Step by Step: