This is not a story about my Saturday baking, which I was looking forward to all Friday, knowing I’d have an entire day with nothing planned and free reign of the kitchen all to myself. It’s not about the new recipes I wanted to try, including the cookies that were to have been made with fresh lavender picked from the backyard. Because instead I came down with a horrendous sinus issue that morning, after (or just before) eating brunch at my favorite breakfast place and catching a movie, on what was really one of the most beautiful, weather-wise, days all year. It was like my eyes, my ears, my temples, my cheeks, my neck, my shoulders all were joining forces against me, a mutiny against the changing temperatures and accompanying allergies. Coming home, I put cold compresses on my eyes, took medication, applied Vicks to the bottoms of my feet and bundled them in thick socks, drank hot tea and read online about other people who felt just as blue.
Unexpected to me (as is most of my life, it seems), this is a post about soup. Chicken Noodle Soup. The soup you make when your head feels larger than the rest of your body and you realize you won’t get anything done today and there is nothing, not even the promise of fresh produce and store-bought bakery, that will make you want to leave your home that day or even, you’d swear, ever again.
This is the soup you make with what you have in your pantry, with improvisations and all kinds of tweaks and adjustments, the soup you make because you want it, you need it, if only to remember that there are warm, comforting things left in this world, things that are consistently good and happy, void of any throbbing pains or burning sensations. This is the soup that sends steaming, fragrant air through your kitchen, helping you breathe clearly again, calming your nasal passages.
The recipe is very flexible, and you really only need three things: (1) Broth, prepackaged or made from bullion cubes or leftover chicken remains boiled with water; (2) Vegetables, which can be anything you want/have—carrots, celery, onions; (3) Seasonings, including herbs of your choice and maybe some salt/pepper to taste, though, personally, I find broth naturally salty enough.
Play with it; food should be fun. Especially when you’re sick. Especially on a Saturday. If you’re like me, you might also choose to fix up some garlic bread and croutons for the side. And as an added bonus, if you make this, your weather might just turn cold and rainy, perfect for cups of steaming soup, like it did here the very next day. I had some Monday night in the rainstorm, Tuesday lunch at work and will probably again tonight.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Chew on That
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon chopped bay leaves
2 quarts chicken stock (I used chicken bullion that we had)
8 ounces pasta
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
If you’re making your own chicken broth, do that first. Set aside. Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped carrots and seasonings. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Meanwhile, boil water in a separate pot and cook pasta according to package instructions. When slightly less than al dente, drain and set aside. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Fold in the pasta and chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through.