Sunday, September 2, 2012

Soup and Stories

It figures that the first long weekend of the school year, my son is sick.  So am I, thanks to his late-night "Mommy-I-don't-feel-good" cuddles.  To combat the moans and groans that usually accompany a cold or the flu, I've developed a system.  I pull out my stock pot, throw in a whole chicken, some miscellaneous other ingredients, and let cook.  Then my kids and I pile onto the couch for movies, books, and story-telling.  I don't know if it really makes us feel better, or if it's just in our heads, but this is my favorite way to get over a cold.

Taken from here.
I don't have any stellar writing advice for you today.  I'm making soup and telling stories.  So I thought I'd share my soup and stories with all of you, too.

My own personal chicken broth recipe:

Place a whole chicken (5-7 lbs, roasting chicken or boiling hen, giblets removed) into a stock pot.  Add 1 yellow onion, chopped in half, two carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces, 1 cup of chopped celery, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of salt and 12 black peppercorns.  Cover with water and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 2 hours.  Make sure to scrape off any foam that forms on the surface while the chicken cooks, checking about every 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove chicken (reserve meat for things like chicken salad) and continue to cook on low until liquid is reduced by half.  Strain through fine mesh strainer, or place cheesecloth in a colander and strain liquid.  Allow liquid to sit for 20 minutes, then spoon off fat from top.  (The stock will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, or you can freeze it for up to 2 months.  I use it right away.)

Egg Drop Soup:
(This is my son's favorite soup, and he asks for it every time he gets sick.  I don't even try making chicken noodle anymore.)

You need:
2 1/2 Qts chicken broth (I use the stock I made above, but you can also buy chicken broth in the store, which is much faster)
1 Piece of ginger, about 2 inches long, smashed with the bottom of a heavy pan
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Garlic cloves, smashed or peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
2 scallions, sliced thin
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro (I cut mine with clean kitchen shears)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring the broth, ginger, soy sauce, and garlic to a simmer in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Cook for 10 minutes.

Strain the broth to remove garlic and ginger.  Aside, whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl.  Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the broth and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.  Stir in the scallions and cilantro.

Stir the soup gently so that it is moving in a circle.  Slowly add the egg in a steady stream.  Remove the soup from the heat and let stand about 2 minutes.  Break up the egg using a fork, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
(This recipe comes from my copy of The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, my favorite cookbook on the planet!)

While this cooks (which can take all day) we read books.  This time around, we are reading The Borrowers.  Sometimes we play a game of "What Happens Next," where we tell silly stories that usually end in the strangest ways.  Best of all, we have a never-ending supply of apple cider (which is really just apple juice I put in the crock pot, add two sticks of cinnamon, a sliced apple and a little sugar, then let "cook" on low all day.)

Give this a try the next time your family comes down with a cold and I promise, you'll have a low-stress sick day.  You might even get some writing time in.  It might not magically make you better, but it'll help everyone relax, and maybe even have a little fun.


  1. That is beautiful. I bet your kids will always remember those sick days a little more fondly than other kids. What a great mom you are.

    I'll have to try that soup too. It sounds delicious. :)

  2. Yum! Next time I get sick, I'm coming to your house. :)


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