I admit it. I used to get flu shots. It’s been quite a few years, though, since I’ve gotten one. Why did I ever get those shots? I’m not sure. I guess I fell prey to the annual media blitz and warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (two of my favorite sources of misinformation). Why did I stop? Leah convinced me that they put some bad stuff in those shots…like thiomersal—(also and formerly known as thimerosal) a mercury–based neurotoxin (49% mercury by weight) that damages and destroys nerve tissue.
A known side effect of flu shots is Guillain–Barré syndrome—a disease in which the body damages its own nerve cells resulting in muscle weakness, paralysis and sometimes permanent nerve damage. I guess the flu shot commercial would say, “a rare but serious side effect”. Notably, the syndrome was first associated with flu shots during the swine flu fiasco of 1976. I remember back that far. At the time, my father warned me not to get the swine flu shot. He had served in the Army in World War II and learned not to believe everything the U.S. Government tells you. Being young, I didn’t heed his warning too seriously, but I was too lazy to go to the doctor and get the shot. Then, people started dying from the swine flu shot. Hmmm…Dad was on to something.
The 1976 swine flu plague never really materialized. Likewise, the consequences of catching today’s swine flu don’t seem to be too serious (unless you are one of the unfortunate people with a compromised immune system, which puts you at greater risk than most people). I firmly believe that a better course of action for most people is to build up the immune system and use common sense (like not sticking your finger in your nose, eyes or ears after shaking hands or pushing a grocery cart around the store). In fact, actually getting the swine flu may be a good thing for most people. After all, each time you get sick, your body strengthens its natural defenses. You know the old saying—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Besides coughing into your elbow joint and washing your hands compulsively, what else can you do to protect yourself naturally? For starters, you can eat healthy, wholesome meals. And what better way to start than with a great chicken noodle soup? It’s good for you, whether you have it before, during or after the flu or any other illness. It’s also really good even if you aren’t planning to be ill. I’ve adjusted this recipe over the years and it’s easy to make (in about 2 hours) and delicious to eat. Our kids ask for it regularly. And they never ask for a flu shot. The only side effects I’ve noticed so far are smiles.
WI wine recommendation: This chicken soup is great with most white wines. I usually have a Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, but most any white wine will do.
Chicken Noodle Soup
16 cups (1 gallon) water
1 whole chicken (4-5 pounds)
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 black peppercorns
1 bunch celery (with leaves)
2 pounds carrots
4–6 tablespoons* Better Than Bouillon (chicken flavor)
1 pound package dry egg noodles (or other pasta)
Rinse the chicken (discarding the neck and giblets usually located in the cavity) and place it in a large stock pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. During that time, skim the fat from the surface of the water once or twice.
In the meantime, peel and cut the onion, cut 1 pound of the carrots and two-thirds of the celery into thirds and mince the garlic. Reserve the other pound of carrots and the other one-third of the celery and the celery leaves for later use.
At the end of the 30 minutes, place the cut onion, carrots and celery and the bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic into the pot and continue to simmer, covered, for 1 more hour.
In the meantime, slice the reserved carrots and celery into thin slices. Cut the thicker carrots lengthwise into four long sticks and the celery lengthwise into two long sticks before slicing across the sticks to make small bite–size pieces.
At the end of the hour, use a strainer to strain the broth into a second pot, catching the chicken and all solids in the strainer. Return the strained broth to the stove on high heat and stir in the Better Than Bouillon and the sliced carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, boil a pot of water and cook the noodles (or other pasta) according to the package directions (try to cook them al dente). Chop the celery leaves finely. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove the skin and bones and any discolored parts and dice the meat into small pieces.
At the end of the 20 minutes, add the chopped celery leaves and diced chicken to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Place some noodles (or other pasta) in a bowl* and then add the soup to the bowl and serve (or serve the soup without noodles if desired). Grind some fresh pepper on top of the soup if desired.
Yields 12 generous bowls.
*Cook’s Notes: Regarding the Better Than Bouillon, it can taste a bit salty, so don’t use any additional salt in the recipe. I use 6 tablespoons of the Better Than Bouillon, but you can start with less and then taste and adjust as desired. Regarding the noodles (or other pasta), I recommend you keep them separate from the soup until you prepare the individual bowls. You can keep the noodles (or other pasta) in a Ziploc bag, separate from the soup, in the refrigerator. If you mix them together for storage, the noodles (or other pasta) absorb much of the broth. When you reheat the soup later, the broth will still escape from the noodles, but it can leave the noodles a bit soggy.