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Greek remedies to keep colds and flu away

From the classic avgolemono chicken soup to the least expected herbs and spices

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08 September 2017

Winter is officially over but the weather can't seem to improve, inflicting Melbourne and the rest of Australia with one of the worst flu epidemics in years.
Colds and respiratory infections are bound to increase while springtime slowly kicks in, which is why we have gathered some Greek-style remedies to help you ease your symptoms.

A balanced diet with some extra immune-boosting tips can get you through; some of these edible tricks to the rescue go all the way back to antiquity and most hide in your kitchen cabinet as many of our popular cooking spices were once used as medicinal herbs. One can find a very long list with herbs, seeds, foods and their medicinal uses on www.greekmedicine.net

THE CLASSIC

Chicken Soup with Avgolemono (courtesy of Eli K Giannopoulos)
Hearty, simple and extra comforting, this Greek lemon chicken soup is with no doubt the perfect dish for a cold winter's day! Kotosoupa Avgolemono is a classic delicacy made basically with chicken, which is boiled until tender, rice and finished off with a delicious egg-lemon sauce added to the chicken broth. This is the authentic recipe for Greek lemon chicken soup, a trademark dish that has nourished generations.
The secret ingredient in this heartwarming Greek lemon chicken soup is the avgolemono: an egg-lemon sauce that is often added to Greek recipes, especially soups, and acts as a thickening agent, giving the soup a unique creamy texture and tangy lemony flavour. This Greek lemon chicken soup recipe includes the instructions for preparing the traditional egg lemon sauce. Although the Greek recipe is relatively simple, my experience has shown that it can be really tricky. If you have ever tried making Kotosoupa Avgolemono or any other Greek recipe which includes avgolemono, you must know that lots of things can go wrong: the most common mistake is that the avgolemono curdles and gets lumpy.
*Here are some tips to help you achieve the desirable creamy texture for you Greek lemon chicken soup:
- The eggs you use should be at room temperature, so that they are not shocked and curdle from the heat of the broth.
- The soup should be warm but not boiling hot. When you have made your soup remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for 5-10 minutes, or add 1/2 a cup of cold water to halt the boiling process.
- You need to add enough broth so that the egg mixture is at the same temperature as the broth.
- The egg whites are more likely to curdle, as they tend to thicken up more quickly than the egg yolks when warmed so be sure to whisk vigorously and add the broth slowly.
- Serve this delicious traditional Greek lemon chicken soup warm with freshly ground pepper or paprika and, of course, some crusty bread to sop up all that delicious sauce.
Ingredients
1 chicken (1- 1.2 kg)
1 whole red onion, peeled
5 cups of water
150-200g short grain rice, like Arborio
2 large eggs
the juice of 1 lemon
2 carrots (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
1. To prepare this traditional Greek lemon chicken soup, thoroughly wash the chicken and place into a deep pan. Push the chicken down to the bottom of the pan, add the onion (and the carrot), then pour in the water (it should cover the chicken) and season. Place the pan on a high heat, covered, and bring to the boil; then turn the heat down and boil the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (the chicken is ready when the meat can be removed easily from the bones). While the chicken cooks, some white foam will probably surface on the water. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
2. Remove the chicken, set it aside, and strain the broth. Return the hot broth to the saucepan, add the rice, and season with salt and pepper. Bring it back to the boil and cook the rice in your usual way until it is ready.
3. In the meantime, if the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Dice the meat into bite-sized pieces, and cover.
4. And now the avgolemono! To prepare the egg lemon sauce for this Greek lemon chicken soup, crack the eggs into a clean dry bowl and whisk, until foamy; add the lemon juice and whisk again. Add one ladle of hot soup to the mixture and whisk quickly. Add one more ladle and whisk again, so that the eggs get warm.
5. Pour the egg mixture back into the broth, stirring constantly, cover and leave it for 3-4 minutes.
6. Serve this delicious Greek lemon chicken soup warm; ladle into bowls, top with the diced chicken and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper or paprika. Enjoy!

THE LEAST KNOWN REMEDIES

Alcohol with honey and cinnamon:
The ancient Greeks consumed a drink called tsipouro (or Raki), which was made from the leftover mash of wine-making. They added a little cinnamon and honey to create a remedy that eased cold symptoms.Patients were said to enjoy a clearer head and reduced symptoms. If you don't have a vineyard handy, use whiskey or brandy instead of leftover wine mash in yours!
Fennel:
This plant is a natural expectorant used to ease the discomfort of coughs. In ancient Greece, fennel tea was brewed for the treatment of muscle and joint pain.
Fenugreek:
apart from stimulating the digestion of cattle and horses, Hippocrates encouraged the use of fenugreek for the treatment of respiratory issues and coughs.
Horseradish:
quite popular during the winter months, ancient Greeks would eat small doses as a way to get rid of excess phlegm. It was also used for sinus headache relief.
Mint & peppermint:
These pungent herbs have commonly been used to treat migraines, and for soothing an unsettled stomach. As a tea, mint can help soften the symptoms of respiratory infections.
Nutmeg:
a typical dose of ½ teaspoon of nutmeg as a warm herbal tea can help treat symptoms of the common cold. Nutmeg also produces a calming sedative that when rubbed on the temples helped to relieve migraines.
Oregano:
whether it's brewed into oregano tea or eaten in its raw form, apart from jumpstarting a blocked digestive system, oregano can also eliminate excess phlegm responsible for a congested respiratory tract.
* These remedies do not constitute medical advice. If your symptoms persist please see your GP.

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