Chicken Broth Elixir

Makes 1 Quart
When the college semester ends, sleep-deprived twenty-year-olds arrive home depleted and often sick. As our boys know, my first line of defense is always a natural one. My college-age son, who recently brought home the worst kind of early-summer head cold, learned this as a five-year-old when his whooping cough finally waned after a daily course of four cups of mullein tea with honey. For years after that he wouldn’t drink tea, but now he’s the first to cooperate with our homemade
healing concoctions. When the requisite natural remedies—tea with lemon, herbal Echinacea tincture, and Emergen-C (a flavored fizzy energy booster with 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C)—fail to work quickly, I move to Plan B: sleep, coupled with this steaming hot broth four times throughout the day to drive impurities out of the body fast. Garlic has antibiotic properties, onions expectorant ones, and chilies and ginger cut through the fog and deliver vitamin C. These flu fighters, suspended in a protein-concentrated broth, make good medicine! My prescription? Drink a mugful as hot as you can tolerate. Go to bed, pull up cozy covers, sleep, and repeat. It gently restores strength and cleans out toxins as you sweat. I nursed my dad and several boys back from the brink of sickness with this broth.


  • 2 chicken backs, necks, and wing tips, cut from whole chickens used for other recipes
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt


  1. Place all ingredients in a stockpot and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Skim and discard any foam as it rises to the surface. Strain the broth. (The cooked chicken can be used for chicken salad.) Return the broth to the heat and simmer to reduce it to 1 1/2 quarts. To store, place in plastic freezable containers, cool, and seal.
cook's note
For An Asian Flavor: To add even more nutrients or in recipes with an Asian theme, add 3 inches of washed and sliced ginger and 2 spicy chili peppers. Then strain with the other ingredients.
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