‘Tis the season. Everyone I talk to is sick. The sniffles and miseries are starting to make the rounds. I’m feeling really bad for one friend who has just had too much of everything difficult lately. I decided to make my favorite cure-all soup and deliver it to her doorstep.
I have made this soup for years and have even had a sick friend roll to a stop in my driveway on her way home from work just long enough for me to slide a bowl of this through the driver’s side window. It is instant comfort on a spoon.
There are a few things I do differently from my usual technique with this soup. I cut the onion into small dice and only sauté until it is soft. No browning or caramelizing here. I use only chicken breast, and I keep the vegetables simple. I cut the carrots and celery large and at an angle, and I use lots and lots of fresh ginger and fresh garlic for flavoring. When I make this for myself, I load this with spicy hot peppers. My theory here is to send the germs packing with the heavy artillery of ginger, garlic, and spicy heat.
As with most of my soups, I don’t add noodles or rice. Sick people often have wimpy appetites, and getting as much nutrition as possible into the system is the goal. Cutting the carrots and celery on an angle gives the soup the illusion of less to tackle, but it fills the belly with nutrition that counts. The ginger and garlic will muscle through to those muted taste buds. The soup looks clear and uncomplicated, and at the end of a long day, that matters.
Hot soup and spicy ginger will help clear the lungs and briefly clear up that stuffy nose. The best part is this soup takes about fifteen minutes to throw together, and it is ready to eat after cooking for thirty minutes.
I called my friend to let her know I was letting myself into her house to leave some soup in the fridge ready to heat up when she got home.
This priceless friendship is not a bank account. Just because I did something does not mean she has to do something in return. Honestly, I will always be in her debt for all the ways she has stood by me and shown up, no matter what.
This was the least I could do, and that is what true friends are for.
- Chicken breast-1 whole, cut into large bite-size pieces
- Onion-1/2 large, sweet, diced
- Celery-2 stalks, cut on an angle
- Carrots-2, peeled and cut on an angle
- Fresh ginger-1 inch nob, peeled and grated fine
- Fresh garlic-3 cloves, grated fine
- Olive oil-1 tsp.
- Salt-kosher, 1 tsp.
- Black pepper-ground, 1 tsp.
- Chicken stock-1 quart
- Water-1 cup
- Optional: 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, or one diced chili or jalapeno
- Heat a large saucepan over high heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the onions, turn the heat down to medium, and stir occasionally until soft but not browned.
- Add the chicken and stir to keep from sticking to the bottom.
- Add the carrots, celery, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Add the chicken stock and water.
- Use a micro-plane and grate the garlic and ginger. Add to the pot. Stir well and add black pepper and hot red pepper flake or chili if you are using the spicy ingredients.
- Cook over low heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Taste for salt.
- Serve with sliced avocado and some cilantro or Italian parsley.