You’ve heard of Jewish penicillin, but did you know that a Colombian version exists, as well?

To tell you about Colombian penicillin, I’m breaking with tradition this year to present you with a very special soup recipe that uses chicken instead of the obligatory Thanksgiving turkey.

I first became acquainted with this extraordinary soup last winter during a stay in South Florida. My husband had been under the weather with a flu-like illness, when a dear friend of Colombian heritage showed up on our doorstep, with a pot of this steaming golden elixir, prepared by, Luzma, her family’s talented cook.

It reminded me of my mom’s epic chicken soup—which nursed me through many a childhood illness—but this one was different.  In addition to the usual chunks of moist and tender chicken, the soup was studded with nuggets of tomatoes and potatoes, infused with turmeric, and garnished with handfuls of fresh cilantro.  Another unexpected but soul-soothing ingredient was fideos (Spanish for noodles that are coiled into nests), which were dropped into the soup and cooked just minutes before serving.

Studies have shown that chicken soup can alleviate cold and flu-like symptoms, and that both turmeric and cilantro have anti-inflammatory properties.

It came as no surprise that my husband felt better the next day. And, although I wasn’t ill, I couldn’t resist a serving of the soup, which I found to be the ultimate comfort food.

So, if you know someone under the weather or in need of some TLC, be sure to whip up a batch of this magical Colombian penicillin.  It is sure to cure whatever ails them.

Wishing all a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.


  • 4 chicken legs with thighs*
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ Spanish onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic, put through a garlic press
  • pink Himalayan salt
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • fideos**, 2 handfuls
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts only, sliced
  • cilantro, chopped

Wash, rinse and dry chicken legs.  Place chicken legs in a large saucepan or soup pot and fill the pot with water to cover the chicken by 1 to 2 inches.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Skim the scum that rises to the top of the soup pot, so that you will have a clear broth.  After the chicken has simmered for ½ hour, add the white wine vinegar and the chicken bouillon and simmer 10 more minutes.  Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt to taste, and simmer together for another 10 minutes.  Now add the potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are soft—about 30 minutes.  Add some salt and pepper to taste, then add the turmeric and simmer all together briefly.

Add the fideeos, and cook until soft—about 10 more minutes.  Add a handful of chopped scallions and simmer for 5 minutes more, then add some chopped cilantro right before serving.

4 to 6 servings


* You can use different parts of the chicken, depending on your preference.  Luzma made the soup with chicken necks and boneless chicken breasts.  Chicken wings would be a good option as well.

** Fideos is Spanish for noodles that are coiled into nests.  You should be able to find these in your supermarket. A good substitute is angel hair pasta.