Been a little under the weather this week, with an upset tummy. Which got me to thinking about the sorts of comfort foods one eats when sick.
My all-time favorite, of course, is Mom’s Chicken Soup. Everybody’s mom makes it a little differently, and I don’t even make it exactly the same way my mom does. But here’s what my current version of my mom’s Chicken Soup looks like:
Mom’s Chicken Soup
1 chicken, cut up; or 4-6 chicken breasts, bone-in (or equivalent other chicken parts, bone-in)
4 bouillon cubes
3-4 stalks celery, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup barley
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste (check before salting, since the bouillon cubes add lots of salt)
1 package egg noodles
Fill an 8-quart stockpot about halfway with water. Add chicken parts, bouillon cubes, celery, onions, carrots, barley, and seasonings. Cook for about an hour. Remove chicken parts from pot and allow to cool enough to handle. De-bone chicken, cutting up meat into 1/2″ cubes. Return meat to pot and continue cooking for about half an hour. Skim off any fat.
While soup is cooking, cook egg noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
To serve soup, place a serving of noodles in the bottom of a bowl and ladle soup over it.
Cooking the noodles separately allows you to store, freeze, and re-heat the soup without the noodles disintegrating. Which is helpful if you want to make up a big batch and freeze some so you have it on hand the next time you get sick. (Which I’m going to do as soon as I have a freezer again.)
I also like a good egg-drop soup when I’m sick:
Egg Drop Soup
4 cans (13 ounces) clear chicken broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 package tofu, cubed (optional)
Heat broth to boiling point in large saucepan. Meanwhile, in small bowl, make a smooth paste of cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Into hot broth, slowly stir cornstarch mixture, with sugar, salt, and pepper. Heat to boiling point, stirring constantly—mixture should be slightly thickened and translucent. Reduce heat. Add eggs, a small amount at a time, stirring to separate them into shreds. Add tofu, if desired. Remove from heat; add green onions. Serve at once.
(When making it for an upset tummy, try adding a pinch or two of powdered ginger.)
I find other foods comforting when I’m sick, too. Rice is a big one for me. I’ve recently come up with a quick, easy way to turn leftover rice into a light meal, perfect when you’re recovering from a tummy bug:
3/4 cup leftover rice
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons egg white OR 1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Place the leftover rice in a small bowl. Drizzle water over it. Microwave on HIGH for one minute. (This re-steams the rice.)
Pour egg whites or beaten egg over rice. Sprinkle with cheese, salt, and pepper. Return to microwave for an additional 40 seconds on HIGH.
The result is hearty without being heavy. I sometimes have this for breakfast even when I’m not sick. Works well with fried rice, too. And if you’re in a pinch and don’t have any leftover rice, those “rice-in-a-bag” packets work, too.
What foods do other people find comforting when they’re sick?