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Chicken Soup: Stress Reliever

Sarah Christine Bolton
CDKitchen Cooking Columnist Sarah Christine Bolton

Specialty: Slow Cooker/Crockpot Cuisine
Lives: Memphis, TN



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I have officially survived four weeks of grad school. Actually, survived is a generous term. What’s the word for little sleep, lots of caffeine, too much reading, and general stress? I’ll have to do a Google search on that, but that pretty much sums up my life these days.

Sometimes when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I want to curl up in bed with a good book and a bowl of chicken soup. Even now, chicken soup has the ability to make everything better. It’s the ultimate comfort food.

One of my favorite childhood books was called Stone Soup. The story was about some travelers who didn’t have any food in an unfriendly country. They had a pot, which they filled with water and set over a fire. Then, they placed a stone into the pot and waited. The first villager who walked by asked what the travelers were doing.

“We are making stone soup,” the travelers replied.

“Stone soup?” the villager asked.

“It’s very delicious,” the travelers replied. “But it would be even better with some onions.”

The villager thought for a moment and then ran home to fetch some onions to add to the soup. The next villager that came by asked the same question and ended up bringing potatoes to add to the soup. Before long, the soup was rich and delicious, created by the clever travelers. All who contributed to the soup enjoyed a bowl, and the travelers were fed.

Chicken soup reminds me of that story. Lots of ingredients go into making that perfect pot: soft chunks of white chicken, sliced carrots, silky onions, chewy noodles, and that rich, garlicky broth.

I secretly hoped that the history of chicken soup had something to do with hungry travelers and a stone, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. However, some of the stories about the soothing soup are quite interesting nonetheless.

The term chicken noodle soup may have originally been coined by Campbell’s soup in the 1930s. Supposedly, the original version was called “chicken soup with noodles,” but when an ad was read on the Amos & Andy radio show, the announcer accidentally called it “chicken noodle soup.” I suppose it makes sense the announcer deleted words…it was “condensed” soup, after all.

After the botched announcement, people started writing letters asking for Chicken Noodle Soup, so Campbell’s changed the name.

And, as of October 1, 2008, the benefits of chicken soup don’t just apply to humans.

At the Wuhan Zoo in central China, zookeepers started feeding two pandas home-made chicken soup twice a month. The reason? The pandas have been feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the large number of visitors to the zoo because of China’s weeklong National Day holiday.
So, if I dress in black and white, look stressed and hang out at the Wuhan Zoo, I wonder if I could get in on that chicken soup feeding?


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