My family doctor and I are on a first-name basis since I’ve spent more time in her office this fall and winter than in my own. Okay, that’s hyperbole, but not by much – as you can see by the infrequency of my posts since 2013 took over and my health took a nose dive.
I’ve had a major sinus infection only once in my life and bronchitis just twice. All in the last four months. For the first time ever, I met my prescription deductible before the groundhog saw his shadow (or not – I was too sick to pay attention this year). This is me finding the silver lining in my recent health.
When I have 30 minutes free of coughing, napping or trying to work, I’ve gone to the kitchen to throw together a pot of chicken soup using what’s on hand. (No, I do not make my own stock when I am sick and miserable.) Warm and healthy, the two quarts or so gets me through about a day and a half – as usual, my health has suffered but not my appetite. The “secret ingredients” in this recipe are the woodsy mushrooms and vinegar.
Chicken Soup for the Ailing Body
2 tbs olive oil
1/3 c. coarsely chopped onion or shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¾ c. carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8” thick
¾ c. celery and leaves, thinly sliced on the diagonal
8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms or any I have on hand
1 to 1 ½ quarts organic free-range chicken broth
Salt, pepper, minced parsley, dried marjoram to taste
2 tsps white wine vinegar
½ to 1 c. bite-sized pieces of cooked or canned organic chicken
Freshly grated parmesan
Opt: 14-oz can black beans or other beans, rinsed and drained; ¾ to 1 ½ c. cooked whole wheat pasta; ¾ c. cooked wild or brown rice; 14-oz can diced tomatoes with juice; couple handfuls of cleaned baby spinach
When veggies are prepped, heat olive oil in soup pot over medium high heat. Add veggies in order, stirring and cooking till a little bit browned – but don’t burn them. Add broth and simmer, covered, till the carrots are tender. Stir in vinegar and season to taste. Add whatever “optionals” you like for a more robust soup, or skip ’em to keep it simple and light. Once the veggies are cooked to your taste, turn off the heat and stir in the chicken. But don’t boil the soup again – you want the meat to be tender, not cooked to death. Serve it up as hot as you can take it, with the cheese on top.