This past week I got sick with one of the worst colds I’ve had in a couple of years. I wasn’t feeling great at the start of the week, and began feeling worse and worse as the week progressed, but it wasn’t until the weekend when my cold got really bad. I spent both this Saturday and Sunday on the chesterfield, alternating between napping and watching daytime television programming. I think at some point I was watching something about ice road truckers or tow-truck drivers in British Columbia, and then there were a couple solid hours of No Reservations (that travel show with Anthony Bourdain) on one of the travel channels, and admittedly, that wasn’t half bad.
It’s pretty lousy being taken out of things with a bad head cold. I spent most of the weekend in a weird half-awake state, with migraines and sinus pressure, sneezing and coughing and just feeling awful. What was especially bad was that weird, zero-energy and fuzzy-headed feeling that goes along with a really bad cold. (If you’ve ever had a nasty cold, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.) Complex thoughts were beyond me, and quietly vegetating on the couch was exactly my speed this weekend. I mostly lived off cups of tea (with honey and lemon) to soothe my throat, although I think I remember having some soup on Friday evening.
Today was the first day when I started to feel a little more like myself. (I’m still too unwell to venture out of the house and rejoin my classes at the college, but I’m sure I’ll be there for Tuesday, and if not feeling ‘right as rain’, then at least ‘no worse for wear’.) And since my appetite and clear-headed thinking has returned, I thought making a small pot of soup would be a good step to feeling well and back to normal.
To be honest, I never used to like soup when I was younger. I always associated it with feeling under the weather, since that’s usually when I’d eat it. But it’s true that there’s something almost inherently soothing and comforting about a pot of homemade chicken soup that can make a person feel like they’re on the mend and recovering well. I didn’t really use any specific recipe when making this soup (mostly I fell back on general cooking experience) and cobbled together a quick pot of chicken noodle soup from what was available in the pantry, spice rack, and fridge. Leftover roast chicken breast, diced carrots, onion, and celery, and a bit of lemon juice and aromatic herbs turned the soup into a quick, satisfying, and comforting supper for someone getting over a bad cold.
Next time you’re feeling under the weather, take time to rest and recover, and when you’re feeling well enough, try making yourself a small pot of chicken soup. The hot broth will soothe your sore throat, its steamy goodness can help with congestion, and getting protein and fresh vegetables into your system will do wonders for your energy levels. It’s just the right thing to kick start your system into recovery mode.
‘On the Mend’ Chicken Soup
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of yellow onion, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
½ tsp each of dried thyme, oregano and parsley
½ cup each of washed, diced carrots and celery
1 roast chicken breast, cooked and chopped or pulled apart
1 900mL package of low-sodium chicken broth
¾ uncooked orzo pasta
1 tbsp lemon juice
In a small pot, heat half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Add diced onion, minced garlic and dried spices. Cook until onion and garlic are softened and fragrant, about three minutes. Add the diced carrots and celery, and cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently so that they combine well into the onion, garlic, and spice mixture.
Add your chicken broth and increase the heat until it begins to boil. Allow the broth to boil for a minute or two before lowering the heat to medium, and the soup simmers. In a separate pot of salted water, cook your orzo pasta according to its packaging instructions (usually it will need to boil for 6 to 8 minutes). Add your cooked chicken breast to the soup and let the soup simmer while your orzo pasta cooks.
Drain your cooked orzo pasta, and spoon a fair portion into your soup bowls. Add the lemon juice to your simmering chicken soup, and stir to combine. Ladle the chicken soup over the cooked orzo pasta in each bowl. Serve the soup hot, and season with table salt and pepper to your liking.