I’m Sick. Can Chicken Soup Cure a Cold?

With the cold and flu season in high gear, many of us are reaching for a chicken soup recipe. But will it really help? We wanted to get to the bottom of the age-old question to understand whether chicken soup really cures a cold. Numerous studies have been conducted on the subject – the effectiveness of chicken soup to help clear stuffy noses, the effect of zinc on a cold’s duration, the anti-inflammatory properties of chicken soup to help relieve cold symptoms – but none has proven without a doubt, that chicken soup will cure what ails you.

To help decide whether chicken soup is the go-to food to cure a cold, we reached out to Wendy Dahl, PhD, RD, FDC, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, at the University of Florida.

We’re in the height of cold and flu season, and many people believe in the power of chicken soup to help them fight a cold. Are there any known healing properties in chicken soup that could cure the common cold? If so, what are they?

Dr. Dahl:

There is a substance in chicken soup that can aid in alleviating the symptoms of the common cold and influenza. Chicken soup was found to inhibit the movement of neutrophils, a form of white blood cell that initiates the inflammatory response, which reduces upper respiratory cold symptoms. This inhibition results in fewer sore throats and lowers the production of phlegm. Also, nasal congestion is eased by the lack of inflammation of the cells in the nasal passageways.

Why do you think people subscribe to the belief that chicken soup can cure a cold?

Dr. Dahl:

People may believe that chicken soup can cure a cold, because that is what they have perhaps been told by family and friends. Most people want to believe there is something positive that can be done to help them and their families feel better.

Based on her expertise and the information she’s provided above, we asked Dr. Dahl to rate the following statement using our “True or Not Meter“.

“Chicken soup can cure the common cold.”

Dr. Dahl says that this statement is:

  • True
  • Plausible
  • Unknown
  • Misguided
  • False – Sorry, chicken soup may only alleviate symptoms of the common cold, not get rid of the cold itself.

Even still, if it makes you feel better, go for it. Here is a chicken soup recipe we love, from Julie at Table for Two.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Yield: 4-6 servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes


2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 large onion, diced

4 carrots, chopped

4 stalks of celery, chopped

5 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins or 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 2″ squares

1/8 tsp. Italian seasoning

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1/2 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1 bay leaf

6 oz. egg noodles


1. In a large stockpot, melt butter then sauté onion, carrots, and celery until soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken in and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Cook until chicken has mostly cooked through, about 5 minutes.

2. Add in the chicken stock, water, dried sage, salt and bayleaf. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

3. In the last five minutes of cooking, add in the egg noodles.

4. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

5. Serve hot!

6. Store in an airtight container.