Chicken Soup Good For More Than Just the Soul

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Cliff Erwin

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              It turns out that modern medical science has finally discovered what Italian grandmothers have known for ages: chicken soup has actual medical benefits. Just ask a real Italian grandmother, Mary Ellen Erwin, who’s been making her own variety of chicken soup called pastina for ages.

            We caught up with Erwin as she was making a huge batch for her family. In the video Erwin talks about her recipe (see below), and why she believes it helps everyone recover faster from colds and flu during the long winter months.

            We also hear from Dr. Lee Norman, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Hospital, who talks about how chicken soup actually works to make us feel better. He also talks about the flu season, and how it’s just starting to pick up. He says the hospital is now testing dozens of people for the flu. He says the best defense is to get a flu shot anytime between now and March. The flu kills 30,000 people a year.

 Pastina Italian Chicken Soup by Mary Ellen Erwin


I use all organic ingredients.


3-4 chicken thighs with bones                  2 tsp. salt                

1 14.5 can of diced                                  about a tablespoon of dried basil

  tomatoes with Basil and Garlic                about a tablespoon of dried oregano     5 medium carrots, peeled and cut          1 tsp celery salt

  into thirds                                               Pasta, I use Colavita Stars, Orzo or 

5 stalks of celery, with leaves,                    Pepe, 160z. bag

  cut into thirds

1 onion, peeled and quartered


Fill a Dutch oven pot 3/4 full of COLD water. Add chicken thighs and bring to boil. Lower heat and let it cook for 30-40 minutes. During this time skim off foamy mixture that forms on the top of the stock.

After 40 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients. When you add the dried basil and oregano, rub them between your fingers to release the oils. 

Let this mixture cook about an hour at a slow rolling boil, stirring occasionally, or until the carrots are cooked. Taste also, it might need more salt. It is better to add a small amount of salt rather than too much at first. You can always add more later if needed, but you cannot remove it if you add too much.

Remove the chicken and carrots. Strain stock using a fine wire strainer or food mill. If using a strainer, press what is caught in the strainer with a spoon before discarding. This is where the flavor is.

Take chicken off the bone and shred it, then return carrots and chicken to strained stock.

This makes enough for two meals. You can freeze half of stock along with the chicken and carrots.

 For your meal, bring stock back to a boil and add a third of the package of pasta to the mixture and cook according to package directions. Sprinkle with fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese.