Soothing Soup – Winter’s Elixir

Soothing Soup - Winter's Elixir

Chicken soup has long been touted as a good old fashioned home remedy for the common cold, and the making of bone broth has been traced back as far as 20, 000 BC. To this day bone broth soup remedies continue to be used in kitchens worldwide and it remains an important health promoting addition to any table.

Most cultures incorporate their own version of bone broth into their cuisines. The Greeks add beaten egg and lemon to their soup. Hungarians and other eastern European cultures use the whole chicken adding organ meats such as the heart and liver. Beef bone marrow is added in Vietnam and the Philippines. The Jews refer to the golden broth as “Jewish penicillin”.

What makes this humble soup such a superhero? Most of the benefits can be found in the bone broth that makes up the base of every soup. A well-made broth ideally made from the bones, marrow and connective tissue of organic grass-fed, free-range animals such as beef, chicken, turkey, pork and lamb or wild caught fish contain chondroitin, glucosamine and collagen, which turn into gelatin when cooked. This imparts substantial benefits to our skin, bones, joints and cartilage, but also extend to our immune system through its gut healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Other nourishing benefits include amino acids such as proline, glutamine, glycine and arginine. They help repair and rebuild the intestinal lining and in so doing have the potential to alleviate food sensitivities. They may also assist in treating a variety of autoimmune and digestive conditions.

Vegetables added to the broth not only provide flavour but also contribute a broad spectrum of B vitamins, vitamins C, A and K  and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium , zinc and phosphorus just to name a few. Onions and garlic are prebiotic foods that feed the healthy bacteria in our gut making them invaluable additions to any dish.

So, what exactly makes chicken soup an elixir for the common cold?  Most health claims to date have been anecdotal however, there is some evidence to suggest immune boosting benefits. Glycine helps modulate the immune system by reducing the migration of neutrophils, which reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. This ameliorates damage to the lungs and other tissues and is attributed to relieving the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. The addition of key vitamins, minerals and amino acids in an easily digestible form may contribute the tools needed to help the body fight off infection.

Bone broth is an easy, affordable and comforting way to support your immune system during the chilly winter months so buy yourself a bag of bones and get cooking!

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth


  • 1.5 kgs bones from chicken bones (include a combination of carcass, neck, feet and wings)*
  • 3 carrots unpeeled & roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks with leafy tops roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion unpeeled & roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic separated and unpeeled
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1tsp dried
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp salt (use Celtic or Himalayan)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with the ‘Mother’) – ACV helps break down the collagen and connective tissue
  • 4 L Filtered water or enough to cover everything in the pot and come just below the top of the pot


  1. Place the bones your slow cooker.
  2. Chop your vegetables and place in the crock pot along with spices.
  3. Fill the slow-cooker with filtered water.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (you won’t notice the taste).
  5. Cook on low and cook for 12-24 hours for chicken bones.
  6. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth or a strainer and cool. A good broth will usually have a layer of fat on the top, and will gelatinize when thoroughly cool. Remove the fat with a spoon and discard. Once cooled you can pour it into mason jars and keep in the fridge for 5 days or freeze it in ice cube trays or muffin trays and put into zip-loc bags in freezer for future use.

*organic bones are the best choice for bone broth as they contain more vitamins and minerals and fewer toxins that non-organic bones.


You can take your cup of broth to the next level by pimping it up with your choice of flavour boosters, such as smoked paprika, garam masala, turmeric, nutmeg, tabasco, chili oil, or sriracha.

Always reheat your soup over the stovetop.  Resist the urge to microwave your soup so that you preserve as many nutrients as possible.

Try starting your day with a comforting cup of broth and see how you feel. It will help keep your immune system primed for everything the winter season will throw at it and may be the start of a healthy new habit.

This soup is suitable for everyone in the family as part of a healthy diet. For those suffering from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or histamine intolerance the process of long slow cooking may release high levels of histamine and some may react to it. Proceed with caution or stay away from bone broth if you are particularly sensitive.

Where to Buy Organic Bones

City and Inner West

Feather and Bone (Marrickville) –

Sam the Butcher (Bondi) –

Dulwich Hill Gourmet Meats (Dulwich Hill) –

Australian Meat Emporium (Alexandria) –

Darling St Meats (Rozelle) –

AC Butchery (Leichardt) –

Doorstep Organics (online delivery) –

Vic’s Meat Market (Pyrmont) –

Organic Food Markets (Marrickville) – Marrickville Farmers Market 142 Addison Rd

North Shore and Northern Beaches

Shoulder to Shank Organic Meat Store (Neutral Bay) – 174-176 Military Rd, Neutral Bay

Shiralee Organic Meats (Brookvale and Manly and online ordering) –

Irene Downs is a qualified clinical nutritionist at Health Space Redfern with a strong passion for helping clients rediscover their health potential. She has special interest in autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, gut healing, immune support, weight-loss, detoxification and allergies however, everyone is welcome with any concern or if you simply needs guidance on what to eat.

During your consultation you will receive a tailor-made treatment plan that will address your specific health concerns and understand how these dietary changes will help restore your wellbeing. The aim is to help you become the healthiest and most energized version of yourself.

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