People have used chicken soup to treat the common cold for centuries, and now scientists are trying to zero in on the compounds responsible for its apparent healing power. Some researchers believe the soup works because it contains an amino acid that chemically resembles the prescription drug acetylcysteine (used for bronchitis and other respiratory problems). Others say that it’s effective because it slows the activity of neutrophils, white blood cells whose response to germs can cause inflammation and upper respiratory tract infections.
Most researchers agree on one thing: A simple chicken soup—even a canned one—is helpful to cold sufferers. We’ve tried to bolster the benefits, adding ingredients that turn our homemade chicken soup recipe into a powerhouse cold stopper: garlic (an old folk remedy) and chili peppers, which relieve congestion (think what happens to your sinuses when you eat spicy food).
After just one spoonful of our so-good and spicy chicken soup, whoever is ailing in your household is sure to open up and say ahh...mmm! Comfort and cure—what could be better than that?
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- In a large saucepan, combine the broth and water. Bring to a boil, add the chicken and garlic, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a food processor or blender along with ⅓ cup of the broth and puree until smooth.
- Add the garlic puree to the pan along with the tomatoes, bell peppers, cumin, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil, stir in the rice, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan along with the cilantro, lime juice and jalapeño, and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute.
Tip: You could certainly make this recipe with chicken breasts, but thighs have much more flavor. And if you really like spicy food, increase the cayenne and jalapeño, since this soup is just middle-of-the-road spicy.