Feel-Good Friday: Healing Winter Soups

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It’s Feel-Good Friday, and we’re heading deeper into the chilly fall season. In the past couple of weeks, there has been frost on the ground every morning here in Kansas. I’ve turned on my house’s radiant heat floors once (mainly to test them out), and we’ve started a fire in the wood-burning stove. All this has me thinking about the upcoming winter (so does the fact that we’re deep in production on our January/February issue). Cue the latest issue of our sister publication Grit magazine! This issue has a collection of warming winter soups—one of my favorite ways to feel better if I come down with a case of the sniffles (I also find that the Mushroom Defense supplements from my local food co-op work wonders.) They offer eight warming winter soups, and I wanted to supplement the list with one I love to cure a cold: spicy Tom Yum Gai soup. Its combination of chicken protein (proven to help us get well!), herbs and spices helps invigorate the immune system and clear the head. Whenever my husband, James, or I are sick in the winter, the other will order a steamy bowlful to be delivered from our favorite Thai restaurant. Healing in a bowl! Here’s one of my favorite recipes out of Grit’s article, and another for delicious Tom Yum, courtesy templeofthai.com.  

Polish Chicken Soup Recipe

This was my Polish grandmother’s chicken soup recipe, which I still make. The whole allspice adds a unique flavor that makes this soup delicious. I prepare it in a pressure cooker rather than cooking it all day. It has a lot of onion and celery, which also adds to its unique taste. If you have a cold, it will definitely help clear your head.

6 chicken thighs or drumsticks, cooked and meat pulled from bone
3 large onions, chopped
2 to 3 stalks celery, chopped
3 to 4 whole allspice
1 pound wide egg noodles
Black pepper to taste

Place chicken, onions, celery and whole allspice in 3- or 4-quart pressure cooker. Add enough water to fill pressure cooker three-quarters full. After pressure cooker starts to jiggle, cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain in colander.

Place a serving of noodles in individual soup bowls and ladle broth over top. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

NOTE: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, soup can be heated in a slow cooker or simmered in a stockpot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Yields 4 servings.

Tom Yum Gai – Sour & Spicy Chicken Soup Recipe

Tom Yum soup is a popular sour and spicy Thai soup, that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. The recipe here adds chicken (Tom Yum Gai), but seafood or shrimp also make great additions. Serve with steamed jasmine rice. 

3 cups water 
4 to 5 kaffir lime leaves 
2 to 3 pieces galangal, slices
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 2-inch-long pieces 
1 1/2 cup straw mushroom, halved
8 ounces chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces (with or without bone) or shrimp 
4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1 tablespoon Thai chili pepper, chopped 

Bring water to boil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Add kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemon grass. Cook for 2 minutes. 

Add straw mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes more. Add chicken. Do not stir. Cook for 5 minutes or less until the chicken is cooked through—do not overcook.

Remove from heat. Season to taste with fish sauce, lime juice and chili peppers. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

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