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a yummy substitute for maccas: easily prepared chicken soup

chicken udon noodle soup
When it comes to combating the common cold, does chicken soup actually have any medicinal qualities or is it made of placebo?

This is a subject of much interest to me at the moment because I’ve transformed into a snot incubus. I thought the cold had finished doing the rounds in Canberra and that I had escaped virus free but no, one whole freaking month after Spring had sprung I succumbed to football sized glands, sweating bullets of feverish moisture and lost the ability to swallow without wincing and wanting to give my dog the finger. Why my dog you ask? I don’t know, did I mention I have a cold, therefore sense really has no place in my ramblings?

I was craving soup and I started to wonder why that was. Is it because it is hot and salty and prepared for you by someone you love –  the ultimate comfort food? Or does it have any scientific merit? According to (my go-to spot for contemporary wisdom on all things factual yet hilarious) there is actual science backing this old wives’ tale (do you think there are old husband’s tales? I think if someone handed me a steaming bowl of chicken soup and told me it would magically improve my health because it was an old husband’s tale  I would be less heartened to eat it).

CHEST Journal (Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians – obviously) conducted a study that states ‘chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis, giving it anti-inflammatory properties that could help relieve the symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections’. I think that means elimination of snot.

Whether or not any of this is true is irrelevant. If it works, then it works, no need to question why. Unless what is working somehow involves something disgusting or weird (‘no really, the best cure for the common cold is to sacrifice adorable puppies, I read that… somewhere…’)

In my usual style of “bung everything in the pot and let simmer until the aroma is irresistible and I’m becoming impatien” I concocted the following recipe. Slightly Japanese, bit Vietnamese, all delicious. Mmmmmm.


1 tsp peanut oil
400g chicken thighs
1.5 litres chicken stock
1 tbs grated ginger
6 shallots, chopped
2 star anise
3 cloves garlic, crushed
300g udon noodles
½ bunch coriander, chopped
¼ bunch mint, chopped
2 bunches bok choy, roughly chopped
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs fish sauce


Heat the peanut oil in a large saucepan and cook the garlic for one minute until fragrant. Add the stock, ginger and star anise and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chicken thighs and simmer for a further ten minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Once the chicken has cooled shred into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, add the bok choy and noodles to the saucepan and simmer for two minutes.  Remove the star anise. Stir in the fresh herbs, chicken and add the soy sauce, fish sauce and shallots.

Serves 4

This recipe was inspired by “Chicken Udon Noodle Soup” from “No Time to Cook, Michelle Bridges, 2012.

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