Have you ever wondered if chicken soup really does have medicinal effects against colds and the flu? Me, too. Recently, I decided to find out.

Here’s what I learned: There is some scientific evidence to suggest that homemade chicken soup contains several ingredients that affect the body’s immune system. Dr. Stephen Rennard of University of Nebraska Medical Center says that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe sore throats and ease the misery of colds and flu. And that’s good enough for me.

But here’s the problem as I see it: Typically, it takes a long time to turn out a pot of homemade chicken soup. And when you’re sick or someone you love is ailing, the chances are slim that you’ll find three or more hours to make soup.

Here’s how to make rich, hearty and flavorful chicken noodle soup in about 50 minutes — start to finish.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Servings: 6-8

2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 quarts boiling water

2 teaspoons salt

2 bay leaves

2 cups (3 ounces) wide egg noodles

1 carrot, roughly chopped

1 rib celery, roughly chopped

Cut up the whole chicken. Discard giblets and neck from the cavity. With a cleaver, knife or poultry shears, hack off the legs, wings and thighs. Don’t worry about being neat. Cut each of these pieces into two or three smaller pieces. Cut the back from the breast; break and cut it into two halves. Hack the back into several pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large stock pot or other large pot. Once very hot, drop in half of the chicken pieces, and saute until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the rest of the chicken until all chicken is out and in the bowl.

Add onion to the pot, and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly colored and soft, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Find those two breast halves, and set them aside. Return the rest of the chicken to the pot. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

Increase heat to high; add boiling water, chicken breasts, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring back to simmer. Cover, and barely simmer until breasts are cooked, about 20 minutes. The dark broth will be extra rich and flavorful.

Remove the breasts from the pot, and set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin, and shred the breast meat from the bones. Discard skin and bones. Strain broth into a separate pot, and discard the solids. All of the goodness has been cooked from the rest of the chicken, so you are not being wasteful. Skim fat for later use in other recipes, or discard. Return the clear broth to the pot with the shredded chicken. Bring back to boil.

In a small skillet, sauté the chopped carrot and chopped celery in 1 tablespoon of oil. Add to the pot along with the egg noodles, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust with salt and pepper as necessary, and serve.

To your health!

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living.

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