When my mother lived in a walk-up apartment in New York City, she had neighbors from all over the world when women largely stayed home and took care of their homes. One advantage of this living arrangement was an opportunity for networking with different cultures. My mother friended a woman of Jewish descent who swore by chicken soup to fight a cold. She taught my mother a different method from what her mother had taught her. This included adding what mom’s friend termed “the key ingredient” – a fresh onion. Years later, when mom taught me to make chicken soup, she admonished me to not forget the onion.

What’s so magical about adding an onion? Besides flavor, onion contains “quercetin dehydrate,” which is a flavonoid known to decrease inflammation, relieve allergy symptoms, reduce the risk of cancer, has antioxidant properties, lowers high blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart disease. I find that amazing from a small vegetable that also does a great job at enhancing recipes!

From the perspective of making chicken soup to fight a cold, the most important benefits of the onion are that it reduces inflammation, which includes the nasal passages and that constant feeling of the whole body being inflamed which causes us to moan and groan and writhe and writher on the sofa under a ton of comforters.

Mom’s soup-making technique was easy. The fresher the ingredients, the better. A whole chicken can be used, but she usually roasted a chicken, and after putting aside the meat for numerous recipes, she would add the carcass to a large pot and cover with water. Cook over medium heat. Add four stalks of celery, one large peeled onion, two large carrots, four large garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until when you blow on a removed bone, it turns white. I figure at least an hour.

Using a colander, drain off the vegetables and carcass. Use the remaining broth to sip and treat a cold. Or use as a base and add other vegetables, leftover chicken, and noodles or cooked rice

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