Tahlequah Daily Press

January 15, 2013

Getting souped up

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Are you one of the growing number of people afflicted with the flu a garden-variety cold?

A hot bowl of chicken soup may be just what the doctor ordered.

January is National Soup Month, and an ancient Chinese proverb states a good doctor uses food first, then resorts to medicine.

According to an article on examiner.com, a bowl of soup may be not only a good way to restore a body wracked with a cold or the flu, but can also be beneficial in maintaining health and preventing illness. That’s because nutrients in soups, broken down through the simmering process, are easily assimilated by the human body.

“Your immune system needs a lot of minerals to function properly, and the typical American diet does not always hit the mark,” wrote Allison Zang, board-certified holistic counselor and contributor to examiner.com. “When you slowly simmer foods over low heat, you gently leach out the energetic and therapeutic properties of the foods, preserving the nutritional value. Keep in mind that boiling can destroy half the vitamins found in vegetables, so cook soup over a low heat.”

Most cooks know that to make a good soup, you have to start with a good stock, or broth. The base can be from meat, like chicken or beef, or from sweated vegetables.

The Daily Press polled some of its Facebook friends, asking what they use to create a good soup base.

Local resident Jim Masters Jr. uses turkey bones, and he’s had great results.

“In a large pot, add a turkey carcass, a carrot, an onion, a couple of celery ribs, a dash of salt and a gallon of water,” said Masters. “Simmer for several hours, skim off the fate, strain and refrigerate. I bag up quart-size seal-a-meal portions and freeze it. It keeps for several months.”

Area resident Sandra Murphy also uses poultry in her stock.

“Boil a full chicken with a quartered onion and a quarter cup each of salt and pepper,” said Murphy. “Scoop out all the floater stuff, and keep the stock in a freezer container until needed.”

Renee LaCombe uses Murphy’s stock recipe, with a few tweaks.

“I do what Sandra does, but use less salt and pepper,” said LaCombe. “I [also] have to have garlic and celery.”

To boost the body’s immune system, Zang recommends simmering cabbage, carrots, fresh ginger, onion, oregano, shiitake mushrooms, seaweed and any type of squash in chicken or vegetable stock for 30 minutes.

“Cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection, ginger supports healthy digestion, and seaweed cleanses the body,” wrote Zang.

“Shiitake mushrooms contain coumarin, polysaccharides, and sterols, as well as other vitamins and minerals that increase your immune function, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and well-being. Eat this soup every other day to build a strong and healthy immune system.”

Tahlequah High School drama teacher Michael Peters said his wife, Michella, a local nurse, takes a shortcut when making stock.

“Her easiest stock idea is to take on of the rotisserie chickens [purchased premade at a grocery store], usually the garlic and herb variety,” said Peters.

“She skins and debones it, reserves or freezes the meat, tosses the skin and bones into a large stock pot, along with onions, celery, carrots, etc., then fills it with water and brings it to a boil. Then she drops it back to a simmer and cooks it for a few hours. Once it’s cool, skim the fat from the surface, and you have a great chicken stock for any soups. It freezes great, too.”

Local residents Kate Starr and Laura Montgomery like butternut squash soup.

“[I make the soup with] butternut squash, potato, onion and apples,” said Starr. “I add butter, chives, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe a little milk, if needed. Throw in some corn if you like it.”

Montgomery has made butternut squash soup, and had not considered using apples, but will do so in the future.

Former Daily Press staffers Kendall Neil, Stacy Pratt and Bob Gibbins all enjoy a nice bowl of soup from time to time.

Neil sticks with the time-honored chicken noodle soup.

“It’s a hands-down classic, and is extremely easy to make.”

Pratt favors the chicken soup made by the folks at El Zarape.

“El Zarape chicken soup is so good, and I try to recreate it,” said Pratt. “If anyone remembers The Chili Pepper, which used to be on Muskogee Avenue and owned by a woman named Bea, she had a good one, too, which was similar, except included cilantro and short corn on the cob. As you can see, I don’t like making my own soup.

Gibbins doesn’t make his own soup, either, but that doesn’t stop him from appreciating the efforts of others.

“I like broccoli and cheese soup and/or potato soup from Kelly’s,” said Gibbins. “I also like vegetable soup with lots of meat in it. I’ve never tried to make my own.”

As for the healing properties of soup, Zang said it could be attributed to the fact that soups and stews don’t require as much energy to digest, freeing up the system to fight infection.


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