By Barbara Beltrami

A bunch of us were hanging around waiting for the meeting to start. Sally was going through wads of tissues and cough drops and looked and sounded miserable. “Why didn’t I just stay home?” she whined. “What you need, Honey, is some nice homemade Jewish penicillin aka chicken soup,” I declared. Keiko shook her head. “No. No. Must drink broth with ginger and cabbage. Very good for chest and throat,” she countered.

When I came home, I got to thinking about these remedies and checked them out on the internet. As it happens, many doctors endorse chicken soup for its ability to open up sinus passages and fight inflammation. Does it actually have to be made by a Jewish grandmother? No medical evidence for that, but I think so because I am one!

And sure enough, I found reasonable evidence of the values of ginger and cabbage. The ginger with its spiciness helps unclog nasal passages, fights inflammation and soothes sore throats; and cabbage, loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants and sulfur is a good anti-inflammatory. Now I’m not saying these are foolproof or will cure you. But hey, I don’t think they can make you any worse and maybe they really can make you feel better.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup


YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


One 5-pound roasting chicken

1 large onion, peeled

2 celery ribs, with leaves

8 to 10 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds

1 handful parsley

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Chicken bouillon cubes, to taste (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Add 8 to 10 cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, one hour. Remove chicken from pot and peel off white meat; coarsely shred, place in a container, cover and refrigerate. Return remaining chicken and bones to pot and simmer, covered, another hour. In a colander or wire mesh strainer, strain entire contents of pot. Return broth and carrots to pot.

Separate bones, gristle and skin from dark meat and discard; refrigerate or freeze dark meat for another use. Cover and refrigerate broth and carrots; once fat has risen to top and hardened, gently remove it and discard or reserve for another use. When ready to serve soup, ladle a few cups of the cold broth and add the cold chicken breast into a smaller pot. Simmer that and the large pot of broth until barely boiling. Place hot chicken breast pieces, carrots and broth into soup bowl.

Serve immediately with separately cooked noodles, rice or matzo balls.

Ginger Broth with Cabbage

Ginger Broth with Cabbage

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


8 scallions, green part removed, trimmed and sliced

8 cups chicken broth

1/4 head cabbage, washed and shredded

One 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a large pot combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes; strain and remove all solids except cabbage. Serve hot with rice, soba noodles or shredded chicken.