More than a few cultures share a similar belief in the healing properties found in chicken noodle soup. Scientists are often at a loss for words when it comes to figuring exactly why this special soup works so well for the common cold—it just does! The warm savory broth, tender chicken meat, cooked pasta and veggies all somehow miraculously work together to cure runny noses, scratchy throats, and other sickly symptoms. It’s no wonder that unique chicken noodle soups can be found all over the world! Here are a few you should remember next time you think you’re getting the sniffles:
American (Chicken Noodle Soup)
First and foremost, it is important to distinguish chicken soup from chicken noodle soup. The ancient Greeks have been credited with the invention of plain chicken soup, having used its broth as a go-to remedy for illness. American Chicken Noodle Soup, on the other hand, was more or less created in the ‘40s by Campbell's, everyone's favorite or second-favorite canned soup brand.
The classic Campbell's recipe for C.N.S. contains chicken broth and meat, and spaghetti-like noodles. However, many Americans implement their own personal style when making the soup from scratch, adding hearty vegetables like carrots, celery, and potatoes, as well as various spices to taste. When it comes to pasta, thick or twisty egg noodles might be preferred by some, while others might substitute them completely with rice or dumplings!
Filipino (Arroz Caldo)
Arroz caldo—the Filipino Chicken Soup for the Soul! It’s also known as “congee,” “conjee,” and “lugaw” in Tagalog, meaning rice broth or porridge. This type of chicken soup is actually quite common throughout Asia but the style will vary regionally, especially in China.
Sometimes seasoned with safflower and pepper instead of traditional ginger and scallions, Filipino arroz caldo does have a bit of Spanish influence, perhaps a result of Spanish rule in the Phillipines in the 17th and 18th centuries. The soup contains rice, onions and oil, garlic, ginger, chicken, and fish sauce, that when blended together will create a pleasantly rich aroma. Top it off with scallion, more crispy garlic, and maybe some egg and lime.
Jewish (Matzo Ball Soup)
Goldene yoich with knaidlach, aka Matzo Ball Soup or Chicken soup with matzo balls, is a classic and delicious Jewish chicken soup often served at Passover. At a traditional Jewish Seder, matzo represents the unleavened bread the Jews ate while fleeing Egypt; it is still eaten today at Passover out of respect for these ancestors and their trials.
This “Jewish penicillin” possesses an undisputable reputation for its strangely effective healing powers. The magic’s definitely in the matzah—these chicken dumplings are tenderly handmade using eggs, water, oil, kosher chicken stock, almond meal, and of course matzo meal. Depending on the skill of the matzah-maker, the finished balls will either be classified as a “floater or sinker” based on their density.
While American Chicken Noodle Soup is more soup than noodle, this traditional Vietnamese dish is actually considered more noodle than soup. Though the origination of pho is somewhat of a mystery due to a lack of documentation, it’s expected to have made its debut in northern Vietnam during the late 19th century, around the beginning of the French-Vietnamese colonization.
Your average bowl of pho will contain banh pho noodles, chicken or beef, onions, ginger, and broth to which the previously mentioned ingredients plus spices have been simmering in for hours. When everything’s ready to be assembled, the bowl is finished off with a garnishing of basil, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, and fish and hot sauces. Keep in mind that though there are many Vietnamese dishes that may appear similar to pho, true pho has to have beef or chicken in addition to the pho noodles. Don’t go calling non-pho dishes “pho!” Pho real!