Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Another Feel Me Better Soup

I love soup. LOVE! It's the ultimate comfort food, inexpensive to make, and you can fit so many nutrients in one bowl of deliciousness that some of the pickiest kids wouldn't otherwise touch. Soup is also really easy to make out of very few ingredients, and really easy to bless people with. As a mama, I love to be able to whip up a pot of soup for some one who is sick or injured, knowing I can put all sorts of wholesome, healing ingredients into it to nourish them deeper than just a meal or two worth. My husband teases the nurturer in me, saying how funny it is that the moment I hear some one is sick or injured my Mama Bear comes out and I must cook for them, nurture them, and take care of them any way I possibly can. He's pretty right. As a nurturer I love to care for people, and as a Mama I know just how hard it is to be so drained, either from illness myself or from caring for sick family, and WANT to make something wholesome and good to nourish the sensitive tummies, but have no energy for anything beyond a packet of Ramen noodles dropped in boiling water.
   So here's a favorite recipe of mine for when you're battling the flu and tummy bugs, and are just beginning to feel like you and yours could stand to put something in your mouth again. It's full of immune-boosting, wholesome ingredients proven scientifically to nourish your body and help your it fight viruses. My kids know I make it when we're sick, so they call it, "Feel Me Better" soup:

- 2 Tbsp butter or oil
- 2 large or three regular size chicken breasts
- 1 large onion, diced small
- 1 cup celery, chopped small
- 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 5-6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1-2" chunk of fresh ginger, grated
- 2/3 cup fine chopped fresh parsley
- 8 cups chicken stock or bone broth
- 2 cups pasta of your choice(optional)
-  1/2 cup natural, unfiltered apple cider vinegar(like Bragg's)
- natural sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Put the butter or oil into the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. I'm a big believer in flavoring every layer of a recipe. Chicken's the first layer, so make it taste good! Season each side of the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then lay them carefully in the hot oil/butter. 

When the chicken is gold brown on one side, turn it over and cook the second side the same. While the chicken is cooking, prep all those awesome veggie ingredients above. When the chicken is golden brown on each side, take them out and set them aside to cool. 

Your pot is probably going to look like this. DON'T CLEAN IT! All that color in there is flavor! Embrace the flavor. Just dump your celery, carrots, and onions right on in there with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. 

Sautee the veggies over medium-high heat, gently scraping the bottom of the pot every now and then to clean up all that healthy, flavorful goodness, until the pot is clean,veggies are soft, and onions translucent. 

While those veggies are sauteeing, crush your garlic cloves and grate the ginger. I like to use the fine shred side of my cheese grater, because it gets all the ginger in tiny pieces so you don's get any huge or overwhelming chunks, and the grater leaves behind the hairy fibers inside the ginger root that can have an off-putting texture. 

Next, add the garlic and ginger to the pot of veggies. If your pot is looking a little dry(sometimes the veggies seem to soak up the oil so things start to stick) you can add another splash of oil or pat of butter.  While the garlic and ginger cook with the veggies for just a minute or two, use two forks to shred your now-cooled chicken breasts. You can certainly chop or slice or break down by some other method, but I prefer fork shredding, because it gives it a nice texture, and makes sure all pieces are small, soft, and easy for little mouths to chew up. 

Add the chicken, parsley, and stock to the pot, turn the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. 

You can totally just add the vinegar and call it done at this point, but we like a bit of noodles to add to the bulk of our soup. I prefer classic egg noodles and since my little guy is allergic to chicken anyway and can't eat this soup(he gets a beef and noodle version exactly the same, but with beef stew meat, beef stock, a long simmer to tenderize the meat, and a pasta like stelline, orzo, or alphabets), we usually stick to the classic.

 I don't like HUGE noodles, though, so I crush them. It also like it better for little ones to have small noodle pieces, less choke-able. After 10+ years of motherhood, everything in our house is toddler friendly whether it needs to be or not. I just use the flat bottom of a regular measuring cup and crush the noodles down to able half the volume of whole. They'll still soak up the same amount of liquid so don't think you need to double the noodles to get the 2 cups if you crush them. 


Once the pot of soup has come to a boil, add your desired pasta and boil to whatever length the instructions recommend. 

Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, add the vinegar(it sounds weird, but trust me, it's delicious AND vitally nutritive, especially when you're dealing with GI bugs), then salt and pepper to taste. 

And there you have it! A crazy delicious, nutrient dense soup that is nostalgic and wholesome, and puts that salty spaghetti and yellow chunks in a can to shame. You can take out any ingredient your family really dislikes, but every single ingredient adds a huge punch of healing and immune-boosting nutrients, so I challenge you to try it as-is just once. 
This recipe makes about 3 quarts of soup. Plenty for our family of six-going-on-seven and then some, but if your family is smaller or just not that hungry, it freezes for later reheating very nicely. 

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