Part 1 of 2 in a series: I had originally planned to do an elaborate post on home-made chicken stock in this very spot. And then disaster struck in the shape of a crippling cold. As a result, I decided to do a quick post explaining how to use the end result of said post, i.e. chicken stock, to create a quick and amazing remedy for the dreaded common cold. Check back in a few days for the original (now follow-up) post, currently codenamed kick-ass chicken stock!
Anyone who read my recent article which might as well be labeled 3000+ words on curry powder will probably have deducted that I’m not one to generally keep things short and to the point, but desperate times calls for desperate measures and therefore this is one such (relatively) short and to the point post.
Things have not been well in Johan-land lately. I’ve been down and out with a cold. Well, I’ve been refusing to be down and out with a cold is probably more like it. As a result, I’ve been dragging myself around, practicing my cameo on The Walking Dead, moaning, groaning and coughing at everybody. Oh what fun it has been. It’s cold season in Denmark and this year even the strongest amongst us seem affected. I thought I was gonna weather the storm unharmed but after a week of our secretary spending half her working hours coughing on me, I too bowed to the overwhelming force that is the common cold.
Chicken Noodle Soup: Instant gratification!
Luckily, however, this time around, I got sick with a slightly better timing than other years. See, the very day before falling ill, I had roasted a nice, big organic chicken and upon eating what I could thereof, I picked the bones best as I could and reserved the broken up carcass along with any pieces of cartilage, pieces of skin and otherwise inedible bits for the purpose of stock making.
Now admittedly, stock making may not seem like the grandest and most fun endeavour when sick with a cold. It is, however, a good and interesting use for the leftover bones, scraps and what have you that comes from roasting a perfectly good chicken. It’s also a formidable way of squeezing the most out of your leftovers and stopping the waste of perfectly good food that has become so horribly common in our modern-day throw-away society built on convenience. Most importantly, though, stock is the foundation of the perfect cure for the common cold: chicken noodle soup!
Since we’re talking quick relief here, and since authoring blog posts with a head cold is not exactly the most fun I’ve ever had, stock making is definitely the subject of another post – and one that we will get to shortly. For now, with others around me dropping like flies and needing relief from the crippling cold sweeping the continent, allow me, dear reader, to rush to your aid. Here without much further ado is the perfect cure for anything that ails you this cold season:
Here, dear reader, is the quick, dirty and easy to follow recipe for an easy, nourishing, warming and soothing chicken noodle soup bursting with bold flavors including ginger, lemon grass, garlic and chilies. Best of all? It’s done in half an hour or less with only a couple of minutes of actual honest to God cooking time required!
For years, I’ve used this simple recipe as my go-to remedy for anything from the common cold over strep throat to the dreaded man flu. And for very good reasons! The dish is dead simple, it comes together with little to no effort, and it is made using common ingredients most of which are usually available in any kitchen or pantry. Above all, though, it has always brought me instant relief!
Missing an ingredient? Fear not! While the ingredients below are not exactly uncommon, I realize you may well find yourself without access to fresh ginger or lemon grass. If missing one or more ingredients, don’t let that stop you. Soldier on, most of them can be pretty easily omitted!
But enough talk already, let’s cook!
Easy Chicken Noodle Soup: A Simple Cure for the Common Cold
- 1 liter of chicken stock home-made or store bought low sodium!
- an inch-long piece of ginger peeled and cut into large chunks
- one stalk of lemon gras
- one medium onion cut into slivers
- two cloves of garlic smashed with the back of your hand
- one medium carrot diced
- two stalks of celery diced
- 125 grams of uncooked egg noodles
- 150 grams of cooked chicken diced or shredded
- 1 tablespoon of chicken fat or butter
- a splash of fish sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons of soy sauce
- Sriracha hot sauce to taste
- Freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
- Put a small pot over medium heat and add in the chicken fat or butter.
- When fat of choice is shimmering, add onion, carrot and celery and sautée for a few minutes.
- Give the lemon grass a thorough pounding with the back of a heavy knife, then cut in half lengthwise.
- Add lemon grass, ginger and garlic to the pot and pour over the chicken stock.
- Allow stock to slowly come to a boil, back the heat down to a simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, carefully remove the lemon grass and ginger using a slotted spoon or similar.
- Raise heat slightly and bring soup to a low boil, toss in the cooked chickens along with the noodles.
- Cook for another 3-4 minutes until noodles are pliable and tender.
- Stir in fish sauce, soy sauce and Sriracha, then kill the heat.
- Ladle soup into a bowl and squeeze a bit of lime or lemon juice into the bowl immediately before serving.
- Consume while piping hot, add more soy sauce or hot sauce as you see fit
Chicken fat is a by-product of stock-making. You can obtain chicken fat from skimming it off the top of a home-made stock or (if you're lucky) by looking for "schmaltz" at your local Jewish market. Alternatively you can use butter or even oil in a pinch.
You don't necessarily *have* to remove the lemon grass and ginger, you can just as easily keep them in the soup and just eat around the inedible bits and pieces.
And there you have it. In thirty minutes or less, we’ve produced a tasty and easy to digest meal that will not only leave you full and happy, but will also actually provide considerable comfort and relief if you happen to be struggling with a cold or worse.
The cure for what ails you?
“But, Johan,” you’re probably saying by now, “is this really a cure for the cold?” – Ahem, well, let’s put it this way. It will most certainly make you feel a hell of a lot better. But does that make it a cure? Well, uh… I don’t exactly have scientific proof that this works as a cure for the cold… But then again, I don’t exactly have scientific proof of the contrary, either. What I can truthfully guarantee you, though, is that while it may not exactly cure you, the age-old, trusted cold remedy that is chicken noodle soup will most certainly offer you relief in your time of discomfort. A lot of relief!
And exactly why is that? Well, it’s quite simple, really. When suffering from a cold or otherwise sick, the body needs a few very basic things to do its thing and get better: rest, warmth, hydration and nourishment. Many of these – except maybe the first – we tend to completely overlook in our state of feeling sorry for ourselves and being absolutely drained of energy and will to live. And that’s where chicken noodle soup helps! This simple cure-all recipe brings all of the above and then some to the party, in one single, steaming bowl of goodness.
Being a simple recipe one pot meal conjured up in a minimum of time using a minimum of ingredients, this recipe allows us to produce a hearty, filling meal with a minimum of being on our feet. This leaves our poor bodies plenty of time to rest, recover and start feeling better – all while we chow down on delicious, warming chicken noodle soup.
Which brilliant leads us to the next healing property of this particular dish: the warmth factor. Chicken noodle soup, unlike revenge, is a dish obviously best served piping hot. The soothing liquid will help warm the aching body through and fight off the bone-chilling, well, cold that has grasped it, leaving you feeling warm and relieved, at least temporarily. Furthermore, the bold, spicy flavors of the soup will obviously add a bit of a kick of their own, most notably so the chilies whose heat will add an extra bit of warmth and help get some much-needed endorphins flowing through your system. Consequently, go as heavy on the chili as you can, it will really help get your system working again – oh and don’t worry if you’re not a chili head, in that case a little goes a long way. Adjust the amount of chili in the recipe to your liking, we’re looking to get the blood flowing and creating a sense of well-being, not the opposite.
Home-made Sriracha Chili sauce: Want to make chicken soup? Home-made stock not enough for you? Check out my guide to home-made Sriracha, the king of hot sauces! Be warned, though, it’s going to take you an extra few days.
But what of these hydration and nourishment issues, I’ve also mentioned? Well, the best piece of advice I’ve ever received as far as overcoming a cold goes is this: stay hydrated! And that sounds simple enough, but it’s easy to forget that the body dispels a hell of a lot of more water than you might think when you’re sick. Just think of all the shaking and shivering, perspiration, nose blowing and otherwise not very pleasant stuff going on. All that extra loss needs to be compensated for somehow, and obviously liquid foods help here – in more ways than one. They not only make up for liquid lost (in a damn tasty manner, mind you), they also act as a willing carrier of something else that is vital to quick recovery but often overlooked in times of sickness: nourishment and calories.
See, what few of us fail to realise in the moment is that when we’re sick, our body is actually working overtime trying to combat the nasties trying taking over our system. This goes to explain why you’re always feeling drained of energy immediately before, during and after a bout with the common cold or flu. In order for our body to do its job fighting off the nasties, it needs fuel. Fuel in the form of food. And sometimes food can be a bit, eh, stressing to think about when sick. By packing our chicken noodle soup with tender chicken bits and soft noodles, we essentially offer the body a quick, easy and relatively heavy boost of calories to work with in a form that’s easy to consume and digest. This essentially means instant fuel for your body to combat the germs and other nasties that try to take hold of your system… And who said pasta and carbs were bad for you? It’s not! It’s a relief!
And on that bombshell, there you have it: a pseudo-scientific explanation for why I consider my trusty chicken noodle soup recipe the perfect relief for whatever ails you during cold season.
On the importance of a well-stocked pantry: Recipes and situations such as the one above go to show the importance of having a well-stocked pantry or fridge. If you keep even the smallest , lasting, minimum supply of veggies, noodles and grains, frozen stock and/or meat at hand along with a few basic taste boosters such as chili sauce, soy sauce and oils, you’ll be prepared for all sorts of culinary emergencies, including an unsuspected cold!
So, to get back to the original question: A cure? Maybe not… A relief? Most certainly! It’s just that as far as attention-grabbing headlines go, cure sounded a hell of lot better than relief… What stands beyond debate, though, is that this chicken noodle soup is my ultimate go-to remedy when the common cold strikes and it has certainly offered me much comfort and relief over the years. My only hope is it will do the same for you, dear reader. Attention-grabbing headlines aside.
What’s YOUR perfect cure for the common cold?