Is Chicken Soup Really Good for You When You’re Sick?

When we feel under the weather, many of us turn to the age-old remedy of chicken soup. It's been passed down through generations as a comforting and healing elixir, but is there any truth to its supposed medicinal properties? Let's dive into the science behind this beloved remedy and uncover whether chicken soup is truly beneficial for you when you're sick.

The Myth of Chicken Soup:

For centuries, chicken soup has been touted as a cure-all for everything from the common cold to more severe illnesses. It's often said to alleviate symptoms like congestion, sore throat, and fatigue, leading many to believe in its magical healing powers. But is this just an old wives' tale, or is there scientific evidence to support it?

The Science Behind Chicken Soup:

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Surprisingly, research suggests that there may be some truth to the claims about chicken soup's health benefits. Several studies have examined the effects of chicken soup on respiratory infections, with promising results. One study published in the journal Chest found that chicken soup could help reduce the movement of neutrophils, white blood cells that play a role in inflammation and the immune response, potentially easing symptoms of upper respiratory infections.

Furthermore, the steam from hot soup can help relieve congestion by loosening mucus and making it easier to expel. The warmth of the soup may also soothe a sore throat and provide comfort when you're feeling unwell. Additionally, the ingredients commonly found in chicken soup, such as vegetables and herbs, provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that support overall health and immune function.

However, it's essential to note that while chicken soup may offer some relief from symptoms, it is not a cure for illness. It cannot replace medical treatment or prevent the spread of contagious diseases. If you're sick, it's crucial to follow your doctor's advice and take appropriate measures to rest and recover.

Making Chicken Soup Work for You:

If you're looking to reap the potential benefits of chicken soup when you're sick, here's a simple recipe to try:

Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe:


  • 1 whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds), cut into pieces
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 8 cups water or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot, heat some oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and dried rosemary, and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Place the chicken pieces in the pot and cover with water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked through and tender, remove it from the pot and shred the meat using two forks. Discard the bones and return the shredded chicken to the pot.
  5. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley if desired.

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If you're looking to reap the potential benefits of chicken soup when you're sick, here are some tips to make it even more nourishing:

  1. Use homemade broth: Homemade chicken broth is rich in nutrients and can be more flavorful than store-bought varieties. Simmering chicken bones with vegetables and herbs for several hours extracts essential minerals and vitamins, making it a nutritious base for your soup.

  2. Add immune-boosting ingredients: Enhance the nutritional value of your soup by adding ingredients like garlic, ginger, turmeric, and leafy greens. These foods are rich in antioxidants and compounds that support immune function and may help you recover more quickly.

  3. Keep it simple: While chicken soup can be customized with various ingredients, sometimes simplicity is best, especially when you're feeling unwell. Stick to classic ingredients like chicken, carrots, celery, and onions for a comforting and nourishing meal.

While chicken soup may not be a miracle cure for illness, there is scientific evidence to suggest that it can offer some relief from symptoms and support overall health. Its comforting warmth, hydrating properties, and nutrient-rich ingredients make it a go-to remedy for many when they're feeling under the weather. So the next time you're sick, why not enjoy a bowl of homemade chicken soup? It may not cure you overnight, but it can certainly provide some much-needed comfort and nourishment as you rest and recover.