Six Soups to Soothe a Cold

Under the weather? One of these soup recipes might be the perfect cold comfort.

Oct. 24, 2008— -- We've all heard the age-old recommendation: Starve a cold.

Doesn't work.

And what about: Chicken soup will cure the common cold?

Not exactly, but there might be a little truth to the old wive's tale.

There's no question hydration helps the body fight illness. Not to mention that warm liquids can comfort those clogged nasal passages. But recent research indicates that chicken soup, specifically, may help you feel better in other ways.

"It does actually have an anti-inflammatory effect," says Dr. Lisa Bernstein, an associate professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta and a participant in the OnCall+ Cold & Flu section.

"It's important to just keep your nutrition up, keep hydrated, and if you like chicken soup, go right ahead," Bernstein says.

Sure, the canned soup standards can do the job just fine, but why not consider soup from scratch?

We've assembled six delicious recipes to try, including the classic chicken noodle soup.

Visit the OnCall+ Cold & Flu Center

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  • None of these recipes is guaranteed in any way to speed up an illness, but they will fill your stomach and soothe you, nonetheless.

    Chicken Noodle Soup

    This timeless recipe is the signature antidote to the common cold.


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 package egg noodles (12 ounces)

    1. In a big stock pot, combine water, chicken, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer one hour, or until chicken juices run clear. Remove chicken and shred it. Strain the broth and reserve it.

    2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in olive oil until slightly browned.

    3. Combine in the pot: the browned onion and garlic, shredded chicken, strained broth, carrots, corn, and celery. Simmer 20 minutes.

    4. Add parsley and egg noodles and simmer for 10 minutes more.

    Submitted by Rachel Meeks, 41, of Dallas, Texas

    Fennel and Apple Soup

    Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives or red apple cut into matchsticks. (Leave red apple skin intact; toss with fresh lemon juice to retain color.) This recipe is also deliciously gluten-free and dairy-free.


  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalk and fronds removed, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Madeira wine or Port
  • 2 cups gluten-free, dairy-free chicken stock (suggest Imagine, Pacific or Kitchen Basics brands)
  • 2 large apples, Granny Smith or other firm, tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste

    1. In a large, heavy-bottom stockpot, saute fennel and onion in olive oil until softened and slightly browned (caramelized), about 15 minutes.

    2. Add wine and let cook for a minute. Add chicken stock, apples, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until apples and fennel are soft.

    3. Remove bay leaf and puree in batches in a blender or food processor. For velvety-smooth texture, pass soup through a food mill or strain.

    4. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

    For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock rather than chicken broth.

    Submitted by Living Without magazine.

    Roasted Beet Soup

    Beets are a good source of folate, potassium and iron. They derive their rich jewel-tone color in part from cancer-fighting betacyanin. High in natural sugar and low in calories, beets are especially delicious when roasted. Serve this soup hot, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt. This recipe can also be prepared gluten-free and dairy-free.


  • 3 pounds fresh beets trimmed, peeled and cut into eighths (suggest wearing gloves for this task)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups gluten-free, dairy-free chicken stock (try Imagine, Pacific or Kitchen Basics brands)
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Toss beets, onion, carrots and bell pepper in olive oil and spread in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Cook for 45 minutes or until the beets and other vegetables are softened.

    3. Add apple cider, chicken stock and roasted vegetables to a large stock pot and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add tarragon, salt and pepper to taste.

    4. Puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Add water or additional stock to thin to desired consistency.

    Submitted by Living Without magazine.

    Portuguese Bean Soup

    Delicious fall flavors with a simple preparation, this hearty soup will satisfy a family that's under the weather and provide a bit of a kick.

    Portuguese soup


  • 1 pkg. ham hocks (chopped) or 1/2 lb. salted pork (remove skin)
  • 2 large linguica (Portuguese sausage)
  • 1 16 oz.-can tomato sauce
  • 2 qts. water
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 4 cups diced carrots
  • 4-6 cups diced potatoes
  • 3 cups squash
  • 2 cups watercress
  • 2 16 oz. cans kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • parsley (to taste)
  • 6 cups chopped cabbage

    1. Slice linguica into bite-size pieces. Cook with ham hocks, tomato sauce and water in a large pot until pork is almost tender (30-45 minutes). Cut meat from bones (if using ham hocks), slice meat into bite-size pieces and return meat to pot. Discard bones.

    2. Add onion, carrots, potatoes, squash, watercress and kidney beans. Simmer on low heat for an hour, stirring frequently. Add garlic salt, pepper and parsley.

    3. Complete by adding chopped cabbage and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Add cornstarch to thicken, if desired. Makes 7 quarts.

    From the recipe box of Nira Fernandes of Kahului, Hawaii

    Hlelem (Tunisian Vegetable and Bean Soup)

    Packed with beans and greens, this slightly spicy vegetable soup is both tasty and good for you. Harissa is a Tunisian hot sauce or paste usually made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil. It's available in cans, jars or tubes from Middle Eastern markets and specialty stores.

    hlelem soup (Tunisian vegetable and bean soup)


  • 3 ounces dried lima or butter beans (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 ounces dried chickpeas (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 celery stalk, large outer veins trimmed, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • ½ onion, minced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste (about 3 ounces)
  • 4 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed and cut into pieces
  • 1-inch pieces, leaves shredded (about 5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 ounces angel hair pasta, broken into bite-sized pieces (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

    1. Soak the dried lima beans and chickpeas separately overnight in three times their volume of water. Drain and cook them separately in two times their volume of fresh water until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain and reserve the cooking water from both the lima beans and chickpeas. Combine the lima beans and chickpeas; set aside. Combine the cooking waters and set aside.

    2. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.

    3. Add the broth, reserved bean cooking liquid, and the tomato paste. Mix together until well blended and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.

    4. About 10 minutes before serving, add the cooked beans and chick peas, the Swiss chard and the pasta. Simmer until the pasta and chard stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

    5. Add the harissa and stir until blended. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls, garnished with the chopped parsley. Makes eight servings.

    Submitted by The Culinary Institute of America's Book of Soup.

    Thai Hot and Sour Soup

    Thai hot and sour soup creates a fascinating interplay of spicy hot chile and sour citrus flavor on the palate.


  • 1/4 pound small (30-35 count) shrimp, peeled and butterflied
  • 2 ounces thin rice noodles (vermicelli)
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 stalk fresh lemon grass, cut into 2-inch pieces, smashed
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 tablespoons chili oil
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/2 pickled chili
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup drained canned straw mushrooms


    1. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and boil until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to colander. Rinse under cold water, drain and set the shrimp aside. Cook the rice noodles in the same pot of boiling water until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

    2. Combine the broth with the lemon grass, fish sauce, chili oil, lime zest, pickled chili, lemon juice and lime juice in a wok or soup pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Strain or use a slotted spoon to remove the lemon grass.

    3. Distribute the rice noodles, shrimp, mushrooms and cilantro between 8 heated soup bowls. Pour the broth over and serve. Makes eight servings.

    Submitted by The Culinary Institute of America's Book of Soup.


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