DIY Sick-Day Chicken Soup

Melissa shares her simple, fast and flexible recipe for DIY sick day chicken soup because sometimes, even moms are the ones who get sick.
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I write you from the comfort of my bathrobe, snuggled up under a thick comforter. Next to me is my daughter Valentine, whose throaty cough shakes the bed and my laptop about twice a minute. Yes, it’s cold and flu season. The other girls are off ice-skating with their cousins, but Valentine and I are homebound, sucking on homeopathic little pastilles every 15 minutes, trying to head off the virus that seems to have hit us overnight.

What I’m craving, appropriately, is a broth-y chicken soup, and so is Valentine. I read in a journal somewhere (or was it my grandmother who told me this? Details are fuzzy when I’m under the weather) that there is actual evidence to support broth-based soups as a treatment for the common cold. Good enough for me.

In an ideal world, someone would magically sense my need for soup and bring a steamy vat of it to my door. But, that seems unlikely, so I made my quickest sick-day soup. It’s so easy to make that you can make it even when sick.

Start with some leftover chicken — this could be a picked-over rotisserie chicken or a couple of leftover drumsticks. Bone-in chicken adds more flavor, but in a pinch, you could even use a brand-new boneless skinless chicken breast. In a large pot, saute the chicken in 1 or 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat, along with half of a chopped onion, 1 or 2 chopped carrots, and 1 or 2 chopped stalks of celery. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste if you have it handy, then cook just until the veggies take on a bit of golden color. Add a clove of minced garlic (or more! Garlic is also a great healer according to Grandma; the more I think of it, I think it might have been Grandma not a medical journal after all). Then cover the whole thing with enough water to make proportions look like soup. Toss in a bay leaf and a little parsley if you have it (we didn’t), simmer the whole thing for 15 minutes (or longer if you want). Pull out any chicken bones and skin, and shred or chop any large chunks of chicken and place back into the soup pot. Taste the soup. The broth will be lighter in flavor — what did we expect making a homemade broth in minutes? But don’t worry, because I have a plan to address that later. If you have it, add a spoonful of chicken or beef stock concentrate. Grab a bowl and fill it with either raw baby spinach or some cooked pasta, rice or quinoa. Spoon the soup over the spinach or pasta to warm it up, then top with a very general squeeze of lemon. The lemon is my trick for bringing depth and flavor to such a light broth. (It really works!) To prove to how easy it is, I’m adding a picture of the very bowl of soup that I made.

Quick, easy and sick-day friendly — because sometimes even moms are the ones who get sick.

What are your favorite sick-day foods?

Calling all Melissa fans! Just in time for the new year, she released a brand-new cookbook, Supermarket Healthy: Recipes and Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending a Lot. Click here to order your copy now.

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