Immunity Boosting Spiced Chicken Soup

It's back-to-school season which means one thing is for certain - colds! Nothing breeds the cold virus like 10 toddlers in a classroom so of course, we had our very own viral visitor this week. As a Molecular Biologist, I am reluctant to admit that I'm rather anti-medication, especially for things like colds and coughs, where they merely provide symptomatic relief and aren't deemed terribly safe for young children. So the first thing I did upon spotting a runny nose was to stick a giant pot of chicken broth on the stove. One toddler a science experiment does not make, but we are now cold-free, well nourished and even have some leftover broth frozen away for that butternut squash soup I'm planning for next week. Hurrah for food as medicine, especially when its this delicious. 

Science Corner
When a health craze makes it way backstage to fashion week, you know it's worth taking seriously (or gone too far). Touted as a magic elixir that can fix all ailments, bone broth is precisely this craze du jour. There is honestly not a lot of scientific evidence for many of it's health claims (like collagen aiding healthy joints or healing of the intestinal lining) although a plethora of anecdotal evidence across many cultures spanning generations is suggestive of many positive health effects. There is some scientific evidence for the immunity-regulating and anti-inflammatory effects of chicken soup, particularly due to the amino acid cysteine which can thin out lung mucus and reduce upper respiratory distress. Bone broth is also rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus as well as protein. Here, it joins forces with anti-viral and anti-bacterial star aniseturmeric, ginger, lemongrass, black pepper and bay leaf to create a delicious, heart and soul-warming broth that's a powerful match for any pesky virus. 

6-8 generous soup servings

500 g / about 1 lb  chicken on the bone (I use drumsticks as toddler loves them)
2 leeks, white and green parts roughly chopped
2 carrots roughly chopped
1 onion roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 lemongrass bulb smashed
1/2 inch piece ginger chopped
1 inch piece fresh turmeric root chopped
4 black peppercorns
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
2 L water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (to help extract nutrients from the bones)
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a large pot for which you have a lid, place all the ingredients (except the fresh cilantro) and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that may arise. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook the broth covered for 3-6 hours.

Strain the broth and drink as is with an optional but delicious garnish of freshly chopped cilantro. You can add the broth to your favorite soup recipe, make it a meal by adding in some cooked soba noodles and veggies or use it in any preparation that calls for stock like rice and quinoa, which are immensely flavorful cooked in broth. Store it in the fridge for 3 days or freeze it for later use.