Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 6, 2015
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Also known as "Jewish Penicillin"
If you were brought up by a Jewish mother, chances are you have been prescribed a hot bowl of chicken soup at a time you felt under the weather. Dr. Mom may have insisted it was a type of "Jewish penicillin," that it would lessen your sniffles and perk you right up. She was, in some regard, correct. In a 2000 study published in the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, researchers found that chicken soup could help reduce upper-respiratory inflammation, which leads to those annoying qualities of a cold, like a stuffy head and incessant sneezing. Many doctors believe that colds are caused by viral infections. The body responds to these infections by sending over white blood cells to take charge, though they are not really effective in killing the virus. Instead, they lead to those cold-like symptoms that make you feel crummy. Stephen Rennard, M.D, Larson Professor of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and one of the study's leaders, found that fewer white blood cells attempted to be heroes when the body had chicken soup in its system. The soup had some "very modest but clearly measurable" ability to promote an anti-inflammatory activity, he explained in a UNMC video about the research (watch here). Even more, fluids — not specific to soup alone — loosen congestion and support hydration.
Chicken Soup is actually ubiquitous through just about every culture that raises Chickens for food. Besides the Matzoh Ball variety favored by Jewish Grandmothers, there are many others.
Chicken Noodle Soup Clove Garlic & Chicken Soup Thai Chicken Coconut Soup Chinese Won Ton Soup
This of course doesn't even scratch the surface of all the types of Chicken Soups out there, many of which you wouldn't know from the name that use a Chicken Broth as a Base. For instance, here's a recipe for Alaska Halibut Chowder:
• Two pounds cubed halibut (approximately ½ inch by ½ inch cubes)
• 1 small can clams (reserve half of the juice)
• 1 cup diced celery
• 1 cup diced onion
• Vegetable oil
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 teaspoons dill
• 2 cups diced red potatoes
• Salt –to taste
• Pepper-to taste
• ¼ cup cook diced bacon (optional)
• 1 cup cooked, drained spinach (optional)
Sneaky using Chicken Broth instead of Fish Broth in this Chowder! 🙂
Here's another one, Borscht:
2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
8 cups chicken stock
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes (not drained)
3 large beets, peeled and shredded
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Now, why is Chicken Soup so popular with so many variations? Partly because it is DELICIOUS of course, but much more historically because it makes the maximum out of the the nutritional value in your Dead Chicken. Nothing goes to waste. Whether you Roast it, BBQ or Fry it, everybody knows that after you finish off eating the meaty parts of the chicken from its bones, there's always still a ton of good stuff left on them, not to mention inside them in the case of the leg bones and thigh bones (Crack them before simmering with a Hammer or Rock).
The best way to get all that good stuff off is to simmer the remaining leftover bones (and gizzards) slowly over a few hours and create your base Broth, which you then can use in all the Chicken Soup recipes you can find. As Diners who follow my SNAP Card Gourmet series know, I'm always looking for ways to EAT CHEAP but EAT WELL, and Chicken Soup is one of the best ways of doing that. So I decided this week to see just what I could get out of 1 4.5 lb Organic Chicken as my entire Animal protein consumption for the week.
I also added another limitation here, NO REFRIGERATOR. I just used my Cooler with 2 bags of Ice for the whole week. The concept here is that if I was living in the Bugout Machine and couldn't afford to keep the Fridge running, could I keep my food good a whole week for eating? Or if I was living in a Tent in a Homeless Camp, etc.? Of course, I'm not living that way yet, but it seems to be getting closer by the day. Best to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best of course.
The experiment began with the Weekly Shopping Trip at 3 Bears. The Organic Chicken which came in at exactly $6.66 On Sale 🙂 actually was purchased some time ago and has been in the Freezer, so I took that out to thaw. I could have bought a new chicken just as easily though, even a precooked one hot off the Rotisserie.
In addition to the Chicken, I bought the usual Fresh Veggies you drop in Chicken Soup, Carrots and Celery. Both keep quite well in a cool place for a week, in the case of carrots a good deal longer than that. The carrots in particular are a good source of vitamins, so make your soup even healthier once brewed up. I also bought Fresh Garlic, which not everybody who makes chicken soups likes in there, but I like it plus it also adds vitamins and wards off Vampires & Zombies too!
Just about every form of Chicken Soup also has its Carb Content, whether that comes in the form of simple Potatoes, Noodles, Couscous or Rice or more creative ones like Matzoh Balls, Dumplings or Wontons. In the case of Matzoh Balls, you get some additional Protein and Vitamins because you use Eggs with the Matsoh Meal; in the case of Wontons you get additional from leftover meat (sausage usually). For my purposes this week, I did the KISS principle, utilizing Rice and Noodles (mini-shells I found ON SALE) and Rice I have many vacuum sealed bags of as the Carb Component of my Chicken Soup. Both of these dried forms of Carb even without vacuum sealing last months without refrigeration, so they are ideal as long as you the Homeless Person has a safe place to store them. For this, you should have a Storage Unit, which you can usually find for $30-50/mo for the size a single homeless person would need for safe storage of personal possessions. I don't need one of those yet, I still have my cubbards and a lock on the door so my preps are *relatively* safe at the moment. However, at this SAME moment My Future is So Bright I Have to Wear Night Vision Goggles TM. As I outlined in last week's Sunday Brunch article, it's really remarkable how fast you can fall off the economic cliff if you run into Medical Issues, even if you HAVE some savings. I'm fortunate that I do, because if I did not, I would already be cooking my chicken soup behind my Bugout Machine in some Walmart parking lot. Not there YET though, so I can still tell the tale here on the Diner! 🙂
OK, off the tangent of my personal trials & travails these days as I inch towards Homelessness, Quadraplegia and inevitable DEATH, and back to the topic of Chicken Soup and this week's Experiment!
After simmering the leftover chicken carcass overnight in the Slow Cooker, I strained off the bones and meat to have just broth, which I put in the Fridge to cool overnight. Purpose of that is to skim off the FAT from the top which solidifies, to reserve for use later in making Matzoh Balls for another Chicken Soup down the line. You can also just leave the fat in the soup, and have it that way though it makes the broth very rich. Afterwards, I picked off the best remaining meat chunks and added them back into the soup.
Now, obviously I got two things here which the Homeless person probably does not have, a Slow Cooker and a Fridge, both running on electricity piped into the digs by the local electric Co-op. The Homeless person might be able to pirate electricity from some source though, but probably needs to use his Cooler and Ice for that process. For the Slow Cooking though, this can be done by heating up some rocks over a fire, digging a pit and dropping your crock pot in over the stones and covering the whole biz with dirt for overnight slow cooking. Basically the same way you do a clambake. Other alternative is just to keep the pot simmering over a low flame, but you have to maintain that low flame for many hours which is a pain in the ass. With a group of Homeless people much more possible than for a solo, as you can rotate the job of maintaining the fire at the right level. Burying the crock is more energy efficient too, if you are short on firewood.
Another possibility for the Homeless Person is a Solar Cooker, escpecially in the warmer and sunnier parts of the country. You can put these things together with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and saran wrap if necessary.
In terms of Total Nutrition, I got more meals and more than 1 person needs in a week of Animal Protein out of this chicken. I consumed the nice Meaty Parts over 4 days, together with Rice & Beans or Baked Potato. Some of the nicer leftover meat I made a Chicken Salad out of with some Mayo, tarragon, chopped onions and celery etc and dropped on nice fresh Kaiser Rolls. The Soup itself by the time all was said and done adding the veggies and noodles and rice made 3 HUGE Bowls of very tasty Chicken Soup. Utilizing a larger crock, adding a few more of the carbs and veggies to this equation, easily you can feed 2 people for the week this way, for a likely total cost of under $20, $10/person.
The great problem here in the FSoA and in Industrial Culture as a whole though is that many if not most people never learn to Cook at all, and all the prepared foods have come so cheap for so long, you have an entire generation of people who know nothing more about how to prepare food other than Microwaving it or buying cooked up already at Mickey Ds. Why are people starving on a SNAP card allotment of around $140/mo per person? Because they buy bags of potato chips that run $5 a bag with the SNAP Card, that's why! FAT and STARVING at the SAME time!
You might not be able to make it on the $2/day Egyptians and Indians and many others in the 3rd World have for their food budget here in the FSoA, but you DEFINITELY can make it on $5/day if you don't buy all the junk and stick to the basics.
Of course, the food DOES need to be available on the shelves at Safeway, and the Money or SNAP Card does need to work to buy it. Still working as of today, so enjoy it while you can.
Eat Cheap, and Eat Well! TM