Turns out it's more than just the tender loving care that works to make this brew a perfect weapon in the fight against winter illnesses.
Chicken soup -- and many clear, broth-based soups -- contain two key ingredients that experts say help sick people stay hydrated: water and salt, an important way to replenish fluids and electrolytes.
There's even some scientific evidence that chicken soup can do more.
"Chicken soup is going to soothe the stomach," said Dr. Gina Cadena-Forney, who practices family medicine at Providence Physician Group.
The soup also has natural anti-inflammatory properties, she said.
Stomach bugs, common colds, flus and other seasonal ailments often deplete the system. It can be hard to stay hydrated, especially when being sick results in lots of time spent in the bathroom.
That's one reason chicken soup has been a staple in moms' kitchens for generations, experts said. It's easy to make, palatable and provides good nutrition.
"I'm a big fan of putting in a lot of vegetables," said Dr. James Wallace a naturopath who teaches at Bastyr University and sees patients at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health.
Chicken soup is easy to make. Add alphabet-shaped pasta to bring a smile to a child's face, matzo balls bring an old-world flavor, while rice can add needed calories to someone who's been sick for days.
For a quick dinner, here's a recipe that bypasses homemade stock for a mixture of boxed chicken broth mixed with Better Than Bouillon, a condensed jelly that tastes great. The bouillon tends to be salty, adding the sodium necessary to help with dehydration.
To make it even easier, skip cooking the chicken and instead purchase a rotisserie bird at the grocery store.
Grandma's chicken soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 parsnip, diced (optional)
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and diced
2 cups assorted vegetable or leafy greens (optional)
4 cups boxed chicken broth
4 cups water
4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon (chicken)
Cooked rice, pasta or matzo balls (optional)
Heat oil in soup pot until hot.
Add vegetables and sweat until onions are clear.
Add stock, water and Better Than Bouillon, plus parsley and bay leaf.
Bring to boil and then simmer 20 minutes, or until carrots are soft.
Add chicken, assorted vegetables or greens and rice, pasta or matzoh balls. Heat through or until greens are done and serve.
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