By Dr. Dave Hnida

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s not been a good year for influenza. In fact, so far, it’s been a terrible year for the flu.

The CDC reports the number of flu cases in the United States are more than double at this point in the flu season as compared to a year ago.

flu cold sneeze sick generic Just In Time: Grandmas Chicken Soup For The Flu Recipe

(credit: CBS)

And based on the number of folks my colleagues and I have seen who are down for the count, the number of cases may be higher than what the official stats say.

So besides a “It’s NOT too late to get a flu shot” advice, or the offer of the anti-flu medication Tamiflu if you get sick, what can you do if the flu attacks you?

It may be time to resurrect the time-old recipe for Grandma’s chicken soup remedy.

Grandmas have been around forever. The science on her wisdom was confirmed in 1996, with the research coming out of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  Dr. Stephen Rennard tested his grandmother’s recipe used for generations to ease the misery of influenza…and a number of other bugs.

rennardssoup1208 Just In Time: Grandmas Chicken Soup For The Flu Recipe

Researcher Dr. Stephen Rennard and wife preparing Grandma’s chicken soup (credit: University of Nebraska)

The idea behind the magic of curative soup is the combination of antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins that revs up the immune system. Research in the lab showed it wasn’t all psychological but physical changes in the immune system.

gettyimages 112868356 Just In Time: Grandmas Chicken Soup For The Flu Recipe

(credit: Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)

A second study, as if we really need one to confirm the wisdom of grandmas, was done in 2011, and found the same result.

While commercial, or out-of–the-can soup may help, here’s the actual Grandma recipe used in the original study:



1 5- to 6-pound stewing hen or baking chicken

1 package of chicken wings

3 large onions

1 large sweet potato

3 parsnips

2 turnips

11 to 12 large carrots

5 to 6 celery stems

1 bunch of parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
  2. Add the chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1 and a half hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
  3. Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 min. longer.
  4. Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup. (but makes for good eating.)
  5. Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through a strainer. Both were performed in the present study.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(Note: This soup freezes well.)

Matzo balls were prepared according to the recipe on the back of the box of matzo meal (Manischewitz).


When finished downing a bowl or two, have grandma kiss your forehead. You know that will always help you feel better. Good luck!

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s