Why is chicken noodle soup so good for the cold?

By Elizabeth Atia

Chicken noodle soup has long been touted as the go-to remedy for colds and upper respiratory tract infections, but why is this? Surely it’s not just because it tastes nice?

As I sit here typing, on my couch, blanket wrapped around me, fire roaring to take the chill off the air and mug of a hot immune-boosting herbal infusion at my side I figure this is the best time to write about the health-giving benefits of old fashioned chicken noodle soup.

We’ve all been laid up this week with the February cold doing the rounds, so a little TLC is in order, and a pot of chicken noodle soup definitely needs to be made. Resting and enjoying a bowl of homemade soup is one of the easiest, most nutritious ways to give ourselves some of that tender loving care, especially if someone else has made it for you!

Garlic, onions and leeks, all typical components of chicken noodle soup, are plant cousins which contain a range of phytochemicals that have antibiotic, antifungal and health protective properties. Garlic, especially, has been used for thousands of years by traditional herbalists to help fight infections. They also contain vitamin C, which helps the immune system do what it needs to do.

Bone broth, made from the leftover bones from a roast chicken dinner, is incredibly nutritious and contains plenty of anti-inflammatory amino acids. I add a capful of apple cider vinegar to the water when I make my own chicken stock bone broth, and this helps leach calcium out of the bones, enriching the stock even further. I use this homemade chicken stock (you can find the recipe below) to make my chicken noodle soup.

With a sore throat, it’s not always easy to swallow, and chicken noodle soup has a wonderful variety of palatable soft textures that go down fairly easily. The heat from the soup helps loosen congestion in the nasal passages, while the broth helps with hydration.

The carbohydrates in the noodles are also gentle on the stomach. Sometimes we don’t feel like eating when we’re feeling poorly, but this small amount of carbohydrates can help keep our energy levels up to help us heal.

Now... I’m off to make my family a pot of chicken noodle soup... hopefully we’ll all feel better soon!

Recipe for nourishing chicken stock


Pick off most of the meat from your leftover roast chicken carcass, leaving a little bit for flavour. Place the bones and skin on a baking tray along with two unpeeled onions, halved, two large carrots, halved lengthwise and an entire bulb of garlic, cloves separated but left unpeeled.

Drizzle everything with a few tablespoonfuls of olive oil and roast, in a hot 200 C oven, for 45 minutes until everything is browned.

Cool slightly and transfer to a large stock pot. Cover with water, add a capful of apple cider vinegar and a handful of fresh herbs: parsley stalks, thyme sprigs, a bay leaf or two. Simmer gently, over a low heat, for three or four hours. Keep an eye on the liquid level, and top up if needed.

Cool, and sieve the solid materials from the liquid. Use immediately, or keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Alternatively, freeze for later.

Recipe for chicken noodle soup


1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 stick celery, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 large leek, quartered and sliced finely

1.5 litres nourishing chicken stock

300 grams leftover roast chicken, shredded

60 grams dried spaghetti, or fine noodles

Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh parsley, to garnish


Heat oil and butter in a soup pan over a medium heat. Saute the onions, carrot, celery, garlic and leek for 10 minutes, until everything begins to soften.

Add the chicken stock and leftover roast chicken and bring to the boil.

Break in the spaghetti noodles and simmer, gently, until the pasta is cooked.

Season to taste and serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and some crusty sourdough bread.

Elizabeth Atia

Mum, daydream adventurer, ex-pat Canadian & quite possibly Britain's most northerly award-winning food blogger. Calls Shetland home. https://www.elizabethskitchendiary.co.uk/

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