27/11/2014 10:20 GMT | Updated 26/01/2015 05:59 GMT

The Magic of Chicken Soup

Entering the winter months, night closes in early, as darkness envelops us with a chill in the air. There is nothing more welcoming than arriving home, greeted by the wonderful aroma of a steaming pot of soup on the stove. Add some crusty bread and butter and it would be hard to beat this nourishing meal. It's so easy, everything in one pot, and for me right now, living with Gaucher and Parkinson's, sometimes this is all I can manage to rustle up for my family.

Leek and potato, split pea, minestrone, barley and mushroom to mention just a few soups, are firm family favourites. However, in my humble opinion, there is one soup that knocks all others out of the ball park, which is undoubtedly chicken soup. What is it about chicken soup that's so heartwarming; appears to stave off colds or flu, often recognized for its comforting and possible medicinal attributes? Is it down to suggestion producing some kind of placebo effect? Or could the stories be true, that chicken soup is good for the soul?

My grandmother swore by chicken soup, with its mysterious properties, it was the answer, whatever the ailment. Amazingly, there have even been studies about chicken soup, trying to disprove the old wives' tale, but astonishingly the findings were positive, and beneficial qualities were indeed found. So maybe our grandmothers were wiser than we thought. Old recipes handed down through generations, like well-guarded secrets, from mother to daughter, carrying on the long tradition of good old fashioned chicken soup. My recipe is no doubt much the same as yours, but I do add one secret ingredient. Maybe it's not so secret and you also include this particular addition, giving the soup a distinctly good flavour and an additional boost making it the remedy for which it is famous. If you love soup, I expect I've now got your attention, so I'll tell you what I add to my soup; a nob of peeled fresh ginger! I'm sure I'll be forgiven for spilling the family chicken soup secret!

I loved to cook and would happily spend hours in the kitchen. Although I'm still passionate about cooking, using fresh ingredients, making everything from scratch, (you'll not find ready-made boxed meals in my kitchen!) cooking seems to be relegated to a number of easy quick meals these days. Living with chronic on-going illness, the constant pain and fatigue takes its toll and I have little strength or dexterity in my hands to do the sort of cooking, that over the years, my family became accustomed to. Add to this the problem of a waning appetite due to ill health, and you'll find it does not create a good recipe for inducing the desire to cook, creating culinary delights. My enthusiasm sadly wanes, along with losing my sense of smell, diminished taste buds and poor appetite, all thanks to Parkinson's. I always look for the silver lining, so on the bright side, Parkinson's has caused me to shed annoying extra weight that was hard to shift and thankfully I no longer bulge out of my clothes.

One of the unpleasant symptoms of Parkinson's is the inability to swallow. Sometimes even swallowing saliva becomes difficult, so imagine how hard it can be, eating foods that are dry and crumbly. Choking is an awful feeling, not to mention embarrassing if in company. This is where soups, especially liquidized, are a life saver. Simple to prepare, easy to swallow and eat, I find myself once again drawn to the magic of chicken soup.