Monday, April 18, 2016

Not-My-Mom's Chicken Soup

When you feel like this...


You should make this. 

According to KidBrotherSam, and Mom. (Pinnable image, just in case)

Chicken soup wasn't really something that I grew up eating when I was sick. Chicken broth, yes, by the gallon even. But when I was sick, all I really wanted to eat was plain basmati rice and plain yogurt. That's it.

I never really intended to have a special chicken soup recipe; rice and yogurt was good enough for me. As with many of the good things that happen, I tripped over this recipe when I was looking for a recipe that was both gluten-free and nightshade-free.

(This is harder than it sounds, since nightshades are both delicious and frequently used as substitutes for wheat. I was cooking for a special-diet crowd, and I was determined to find something that would please everyone.)

Enter my favorite soup cookbook: Soup: A Way of Life, by Barbara Kafka. I bought it for a specific squash soup recipe (Quibebe, which is unbelievably tasty and savory), and I've found that her recipes are reliably delicious and not fiddly or overly complicated. Her vegetarian borscht is also amazing, though it requires the village (you know, the one it takes to raise a child?) to help peel and dice ALL the vegetables. [Luckily, it serves a batallion, so you'll have plenty to feed all those helping hands.]

Over the years, I have adapted it to be my own, which really means modifying it to be The Way I Like It. My tastes swing towards really flavorful food, so your mileage may vary. For me, this is a panacea. From ennui to the flu, this makes everything feel better, and it freezes really well.

There are other upsides to this soup - the way that I cook it - the main two being that (first) you only really need to be upright for 15 minutes (on and off), so even if you're starting to resemble the undead, you can have some delicious chicken soup. Second, it's a pantry dish for me. So, no zombie-runs to the grocery store.

I know it's good, because when KidBrotherSam was on his way home from college, he asked Mom for "that amazing chicken soup" which he described as "the best thing he ever put in his mouth". To which Mom informed him, "That's not MY chicken soup."

I had to write this up, because once I was too sick to throw ingredients in a pot, so Andrew and I had one of Those Relationship Talks.

Me: Andrew, make me soup.
Andrew: Okay.
Me: Make it EXACTLY as written in the cookbook. [Sometimes he likes to get fancy.]
Andrew: Okay.
Me: Except use three big cans of chicken broth.
Andrew: Okay.
Me: And Sriracha instead of jalapeño.
Andrew: Okay.
Me: And-
Andrew: You know you're basically changing the whole recipe.
Me: ...
Andrew: Please write it down, and I'll make it.

So, it went into the cookbook. And now, it's all yours, and Pinnable, if you so choose.

Jasmin's Healing Chicken broth:

  • 3- 49 1/2 oz cans of chicken broth (I like Swanson's)
  • 1 bunch of scallions (or an onion can be substituted, preferably white, but yellow works, too)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (or parsley if you find cilantro to be "soapy")
  • 2+ Tablespoons Ginger Paste (more if you have the energy to mince it fresh/ like it stronger)
  • Squirt of sriracha
  • 2+ Tablespoons Garlic Paste (more if you have the energy to mince it fresh/ like it stronger)
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of 4 lemons (or more to taste)

OPTIONAL: (for when you're up to adding solids to your soup)
- Alphabet noodles, ramen noodles, or rice
- Precooked chicken, preferably from your leftovers, though a precooked, grocery store rotisserie chicken also does nicely

Pour the chicken broth into a huge pot. Splop in the ginger and garlic paste, toss them in the pot. Add the Sriracha. Mandolin the onion/ finely chop your scallion whites, throw them in the pot. Get the pot to boil, then drop the temperature setting for a 20-minute simmer.

While it's coming to a boil, wash and chop the cilantro, and juice the lemons. Then, SIT DOWN. (Do not go to sleep with a pot on the range.)

[If you want noodles, now is also a good time to start the pot of water and the noodles. DO NOT add the noodles to the broth, let folks add their noodles separately. Just keep the broth separate; you'll be happier.]

Around the 20 minute mark, toss in the lemon juice, add the cilantro, give it a stir, turn off the heat and let it sit while the noodles finish.

Serve it in a fun mug, put the noodles (and/or other extras) in the mug first, then add the broth. Freeze the extra; if you're not feeling well, 2 minutes in the microwave gets the broth ready to drink.

And, if you needed any further endorsement, this soup gave me one of my first The-Student-Has-Become-The-Master moments: when I delivered soup to Mom and Sam across the street when they were quarantined to Knitmore West. 
There's nothing like taking special chicken soup to your mom when she's sick.

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I'll cover you

Today, we had a park play date with a couple of Genevieve's classmates, and their wonderful moms.

ChrissyG and I had been trying to connect for a while, and our schedules aligned. I told her that Genevieve had a play date, and in her usual chill way, ChrissyG was up for a trip to the park. 

At one point, we had the girls on the carousel, and Rex in the stroller. 

[Theoretically, I could have put him in the ergobaby carrier and had him on with me, but that's the beauty of hindsight, isn't it?]

Then came the constant tug-of-war that is life with two kids; ride the carousel with Genevieve, or wait with Rex and the stroller on the sidelines. 

Ride with Genevieve, it means a lot to her. TUG.


Stay with Rex; he's a baby and will cry. TUG. 

"Mommy, ride with us!" TUG. 

You can't stick ChrissyG with babysitting; that's not why she came along. TUG. 

ChrissyG saw me in the midst of my dilemma, about to sacrifice Genevieve's real and present needs for Rex's theoretical and only possible needs, raised an eyebrow and said, "Ride the carousel. It's two minutes. Rex will be fine. I'll take good care of your baby."**

I can't even tell you how relieved I felt. 

"I'll take good care of your baby." Magical words, because you know you can rely on them.

Because you realize you're being ridiculous, but it's okay, because it's normal; ChrissyG understands. She's been there. Thrice. 

That's what friends- best friends- are for. That gentle reminder that you're not as alone as you might feel sometimes. 

And if you're being ridiculous, they'll tell you. 


**I swear my mom said that same thing when Genevieve was a baby. Clearly, I keep excellent company. 

Monday, April 11, 2016


Mom: Thank you for giving me grandchildren who love to eat.
Genevieve: I don't like to eat! Except when I like to eat...
Me: What you like is to be contrary. 
Genevieve: I do not!
*All adults*: Knowing glances and smiles