This soup is magical in the sense that it is easy to keep down, stomach-soothing, dehydration-preventing, and healthy. Olive oil has practically been granted nutritional knighthood, garlic has mild antibiotic properties, the lemon juice provides a shock of vitamin C, and you get liquids plus dehydration-preventing electrolytes from the broth. You can add chopped ginger if you have a very queasy stomach or chopped chili peppers if you need to clear your sinuses. It takes fifteen minutes from start to finish and you can make it even if you feel like you’ve been hit by a semi. Twice. I make it when someone in the family (usually, me) has a intestinal upset or a queasy stomach.
The strength of a simple soup is its broth. I don’t have the freezer space to store lots of homemade chicken stock, but I’ve found a few bullion cubes that do the job nicely. I do use canned stock, but only in recipes where it’s not the chief ingredient. Maybe I just haven’t found one I like enough. My favorite bullion cubes are Knorr’s Caldo de Pollo, which is just a base for Mexican chicken soup, and Telma mushroom soup seasoning. I also really like Telma’s chicken bouillon and I’ve only heard good things about Better Than Bouillon’s mushroom flavor.
The other main component of this soup is garlic, and lots of it. I don’t measure things normally but especially not when I’m sick, but I use probably at least two tablespoons per cup of soup. I usually only make 1 to 2 cups at a time so the enormous quantities of garlic don’t take too long to prepare.
At its most basic this soup is garlic, olive oil, stock, and lemon juice, but like to add Italian parsley, stems and leaves chopped fine, when I have it because any leafy green is so good for you it can only help your situation. If you’re up for a little more substance, add cooked white or brown rice to the broth (I always have a bit tucked away in my freezer), small alphabet pastina or other small pasta, or even spaghetti noodles broken into small pieces. If you do add noodles you are just chunks of cooked chicken and maybe some sliced celery and carrots away from that under-the-weather standby, chicken noodle soup. I added a tablespoon of tomato paste to the batch of soup below and it gave it a rich flavor as well as a reddish-orange tint to the broth. If you are stuffed up and enjoy spicy foods, add a healthy dose of sriracha or sliced jalapenos at the very end to eat things up and clear those sinuses.
- Olive oil, don’t be stingy, enough to coat the pan
- 2 tbs of garlic per cup of broth
- bouillon cubes, read the instructions, some require one cup of water, some two
- water for the bouillon, or skip the bouillon and use a stock you like
- extras such as tomato paste, chopped ginger,parsley, rice, pasta or spicy sauce
- Heat the oil in the pan over medium-low heat. Chop up the garlic and wait at least five minutes before adding it to the pan. The garlic should sizzle but it should cook slowly at low heat so it doesn’t brown and turn bitter. Cook for about 30 seconds. (If you want to include ginger for your queasy stomach, add it with the chopped garlic. Powdered ginger might work, too.)
- Carefully add the water and the bouillon cube. Water and oil don’t like each other so there will be a bit of a dramatic sizzle, but keep pouring steadily and it will be fine. Add the stems of the parsley, the tomato paste, cooked rice or uncooked pasta and simmer for three to five minutes, or until rice or pasta is cooked and heated.
- Toss in the chopped parsley leaves after you remove soup from heat. Add lemon juice, a tablespoon full at a time, to taste. Add hot sauce or sliced chili if desired.
This time I made enough to store some in the freezer. Next time Mama’s not feeling so well all I have to do is reheat.