Saturday, January 10, 2015

Feeling Like You're Coming Down with Something?

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: It's January and I feel like everyone is doing everything they can not to get sick. Personally, I believe in chicken soup (and yes, I'm one of those less-meat-atarian-type people, but I do believe in the healing power of chicken soup).

This ginger-lemon version is a favorite. The basic recipe is from Michele Urvater's Monday to Friday Cookbook, but I admit I've made it so many times over the years, I've added a few things (spinach) and subtracted a few (toasted sesame seeds — not that they aren't good, but I never seem to have them on hand).

And so, if you feel a tickle in your throat, I highly recommend making some Gingery Lemon Chicken Soup — and eating it piping hot.


1 onion

1 piece (1/2 inch) fresh ginger and/or 1 teaspoon ground (to taste — I like a lot of ginger, personally) 

1 tablespoon sesame oil (or, you know, regular oil if that's what you have on hand)

6 cups chicken broth (I add some white wine)

1 package (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

1 bunch well-washed scallions, finely chopped

2 cups vermicelli (or other small pasta, or rice, or even broken up spaghetti noodles if that's all you have on hand)

3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best, but I often end up using the stuff from the bottle)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinsed cilantro for garnish (optional)

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional — I never remember to pick them up, either)

Your favorite hot sauce (optional, but helps unstuff your nose)


1) Finely chip the onion. If you're using ginger, peel and mince.

2) Heat the oil in a big pot over medium heat. Add the onions and ginger. Saute. 

3) Add broth and spinach. Cover and bring to a boil (about ten minutes).

4) Cut chicken into small pieces and finely chop scallions. Add chicken, noodles. Cook through — about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and scallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds if you'd like. 

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Reds and lovely readers, what home remedies do you use when you feel a cold coming on?


  1. Must add this soup recipe to my recipes. Thanks.

  2. Sounds perfect! For this lousy cold I'm fighting.

    And coincidence, I went to school with Michele Urvater! I was always in awe that she went on to be a chef.

  3. I started a great book called NOURISHING BROTH by Sally Fallon Morrel that talks about the many ways real, homemade broth, like chicken broth, has healing properties and promotes overall general health. Not the mass produced stuff so much, the real thing. And it's easy to make, I've discovered. Just stick some bones in a crockpot and let it go if you want it as simple as that. :)

  4. PK, thank you — I'm going to read that!

    Hallie, you know Michelle Urvater? I love her books. She basically taught me how to cook!

  5. Sounds good. I usually go for pots of hot tea with honey, ginger, and lemon.

  6. WASHING HANDS like mad! and using EO lavender hand sanitizer when I can''s such a waste of time and fun to get sick, isn't it??

  7. Lemon ginger hot tea, yerba buena (hot wild mint tea), caldo de pollo (delicious Mexican chicken soup), stay as warm as possible (lots of shawls and quilts), and sleep as much as you can, the more the better.

    So much bad stuff going around right now. Everyone, take care!

  8. Genger, hm. Never would have thought of it. It's so incredibly cold here--yesterday to write I wore: slippers. Leggings. Camisole, t-shirt, turtleneck, fleece pullover, down vest. Inside the house, you understand.. Added a scarf, and fingerless gloves, and a flannel blanket wrapped around me like a towel. I walked into the living room, and Jonathan said: "My, don't you look nice."

    I just realized from yesterday, Susan--you live next door to Mo Willems? LOVE him. DONT LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!

    Just saying. Keep warm, everyone!

  9. Ginger, I mean. My fingers are cold. xoxo

  10. Chicken soup = Non-prescription penicillin!

  11. This looks perfect, Susan. I'm still feeling washed out from a stomach bug last week and will try to revive myself with this.
    Thank you

  12. Susan, the soup sounds delicious. I love homemade soups, but I don't make them much anymore. My mother's simple, yet yummy, vegetable soup has given me much comfort through the years. A friend of mine said she didn't understand why I just didn't use a can of Veggie-All, and I told her it just isn't as comforting, not to mention nutritious.

  13. Hum! Everything I like in a soup.
    Thank you Susan. I make a batch of different soup every week. I eat some à couple of times and then freeze the rest. This week, I'll try yours.

  14. Keep warm, rest, Oscillococcinum,and at night, a hot toddy: hot water, with half as much bourbon, a tablespoon of lemon, two tablespoons of honey, right before bedtime.

  15. Susan, I'm going to save your recipe. It's so simple and easy to tweak, if necessary.

    I love to make soups and have a couple of favorites. I do a chicken noodle soup, using a whole chicken, or chicken parts, depending on my finances that week! I also add a couple of chopped onions, some sliced carrots, some chopped up purple-top turnips, parsnips, parsley, season with salt and pepper. When the veggies and meat are tender I remove the bones, and add small pasta noodles. My all time favorite soup noodle is barley-shaped egg noodles, which have become extremely difficult to find in recent years. Over the years I've used Goodmans, Manischewitz, and Mother's, and have not found ANY of them in a very long time. Now I mostly use acini pepe noodles, but the barley-shaped egg noodles have the best consistency. Sometimes instead of chicken, I make the soup with the same veggies, plus beef marrow bones, and a really cheap cut of beef, the name of which I cannot remember, but the total cost for the marrow bones and the beef rarely comes to more than about four or five dollars. I'll also add a small can or two of tomato sauce. Sometimes before I get rid of the bones and add the noodles I puree a lot of the veggies and add them back to the broth; it makes it nice and thick.

    Soup for dinner tomorrow night now seems like a great idea to ward off whatever it is that's going around my town!

    (Trying for the sixth and I hope FINAL time to verify that I'm not a robot.)

  16. It has been so cold here that I have been cooking up a storm to warm at least one room in the house. Yesterday I made chicken soup from scratch-- when my grocery store has a special on boneless, skinless chicken breasts, they sell the bones (with lots of meat still attached) at really low prices, and I buy them and freeze them in Ziploc freezer bags, each with enough for one pot of soup. No need to defrost-- they'll do so while the soup is simmering.

    I make that soup with carrots and celery and onions and parsnips-- and mushrooms and barley and lima beans. At the end, I pull those bones out, pick the meat off of them and put it back into the soup. It can substitute for a meal.

    I also use ready made broth for a different soup. I have been buying the organic low-sodium chicken broth, which is only 5 calories per cup and very low sodium, but unless you add salt (defeating the purpose) you have to add minced ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and chopped cilantro. And a little lime juice. It'll clear your sinuses and make you feel warm at the same time.

    I also make a potato leek soup to die for, but that is more comforting and less curative. And chili. I made chili two days ago. (I also baked cookies and an apple cake and a potato-yam concoction over the past three days.)

    The windchills for the past couple of days have been -40 degrees, and it was snowing and blowing and drifting. The dog took one look outside dug in his heels, refusing to go out. I can't blame him. I was going to let him out on the long leash while I stayed in. I let him use a piddle pad instead. He only weighs 5 lbs, and five inches of snow is a little much for him.

    Today, it finally got up to 12 degrees with no wind, so I went out with the snowblower, and I now have a sidewalk and a driveway again. Maybe I can convince the dog to go out; I shoveled a small area of grass for him.

  17. I generally make a simple soup with lots of chicken, noodles, some seasoning, and parsley . . . I always make my own noodles; nothing's better than chicken soup for a cold [except maybe freshly-brewed tea with lemon and honey; add a shot of bourbon if you like] . . . .

  18. These are too cute. I just had a flag day party and these would have been great. I'll file this away for the 4th. I'm a new follower from mommy on a timeout.
    Joseph Donahue

  19. I have made spaghetti squash maybe 50 over the last few years. I tried your method today and this was by far the best way I have ever cooked it. The squash turned out perfectly! I couldn’t be happier and won’t cook it any other way now. Thank you.
    Kelly Hubbard