Well. We’re back in the tree.
That’s a line from my favorite “What If Dinosaurs Came Back?” movie, Jurassic Park. The little kid that’s trying to escape a ticked off T-Rex says it, after, they land back in the same place they escaped from just minutes before…
Oh heck, it’s too complicated to explain, but it makes for a good metaphor. Dial it up on Netflix, and understand, that for this post:
“Tree” = sickness
“We” = My poor family. AND THAT WOULD MEAN ME TOOOOOOO.
Oh my gosh that was complicated. Sorry about that.
I wrote not long ago about a tragic storyline called “When the Mother is Sick.” Lots of Sturm and drang, my friends. It was more tear inducing than season 4 episode 2 of Downton Abbey (Oh, don’t even get me started.)
Ok. Well, Momsie got better. But then, a vicious TWIST: I GOT SICK AGAIN.
But WAIT, there’s more. TWIST NUMBER 2: WE ALL GOT SICK. ALL OF US. WELL NEARLY ALL. ALL EXCEPT THE CAT. AND BLONDE. BUT THAT’S MOSTLY ALL OF US. IT IS A MAJOR PLOT TWIST.
Currently, I am on the couch with my sweet Red. We are snoozing and watching Thomas and wondering, as always, why nobody on Thomas ever gets seriously injured. Those trains never LISTEN to Sir Topham Hatt! Fools.
What else does Momsie do when sickness has descended?
I make soup.
Well, first I wash my hands, and then I make soup. (Actually, small disclaimer to ward off any disgusted reviews: I was feeling fine when I made this soup. The tickling at the back of my throat was occurring, yes, but I thought it was mainly just the peppers.)
Momsie’s Spicy Ginger Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup
- Chicken, bone-in (I just use a whole fryer.)
- onions, garlic, carrots, kale and/or spinach
- fresh basil or cilantro (bonus points if you pronounce it Baaa zil, like Gordon Ramsey. Yes, he has a saucy mouth, but the dreamboat can COOK.)
- hot peppers – jalapenos, habaneros, serranos.. whatev-os. Just make it hot.
- a whole lemon
- grated ginger
- three handfuls of rice
- bay leaf, salt, pepper, a bit of butter
- some nice bread for sopping up stuff
Oh, and maybe some of this stuff:
2. Chop up your onion and carrot – saute in a heavy, large saucepan (I use my dutch oven) until just tender. If you are using kale, saute it up here too. Add garlic, some salt, pepper, bay leaf, to barely toast. Then add your chicken (I just throw in the whole birdie) and fill up to about 2 inches below top. Let boil gently for a good long time – until chicken is falling off the bone, probably over an hour. I occasionally skim the surface to remove any weird frothy stuff that occurs – Martha Stewart calls this the “impurities” and I’m going with her.
3. Once chicken is good ‘n done (test this way: take tongs, pull up a wing or leg, if it falls OFF and plunks back in the broth with no problem, chicken’s done). Turn off heat and let stand until cool, then remove chicken and de-bone with gusto.
4. Save bones. Really. A few. Throw meat back in with a bone or two. There’s a whole long-winded explanation about gelatin and marrow and all that. As I’m sure you know, I am never long-winded, so I’ll just say it tastes better. Also add in any additional salt, pepper, and about 3 tablespoons grated ginger. (I do like a lot of ginger; some might prefer just a tablespoon).
5. Bring to a nice simmer and add two-three handfuls of rice (I prefer to rinse the rice first. Say that fast three times.)
6. Stir a few times, cover, and leave the pot alone, ALONE I SAY, for about twenty minutes. When rice is done you go for a really strategic move: you ladle out two bowls for your darling little toddler cherubs. You set that lovingly aside and then:
7. You proceed to make the soup apocalyptic. You add hot peppers that grew in your garden this summer that were so hot just picking them sent you into fits of sneezing and aching eyes. No other type of peppers grew, mind you. Not one sweet red pepper that your darling babies might be able to eat. Not even a basic jalapeno. No, you grew some sort of haba-no-no hybrid of holy mutant hotness. And since you never throw anything away; you froze those suckers up, and decided to sic ’em on a sick hubs.
(I did actually roast them off in the oven this summer before I froze ’em. Thus I skipped the saute step. But you could even throw some minced jalapeno or red pepper flakes in at this point if you need to. Or skip this step. But I kinda like making the hubs cry. He swears he likes it. I think it gets him in touch with his feelings.)
8. Very last step: Soup is on low warm. Add juice from one lemon (Squeeze over a strainer! Seeds in soup bad! Say that fast three times!) and chopped spinach and basil or cilantro for freshness. Add a dollop of butter to add glossiness and richness.
9. MAKE SURE HUBS DOES NOT OFFER SWEET CHERUBS THIS SOUP. I know this from experience.
And, might I suggest, you pair this soup with its nuclear hot tendencies with a nice dry Blood Orange Pellegrino. Vintage 2013. It has tart top notes with a nice hint of oranges and sweetness and, um, coldness with an icy please-cool-my-mouth-down-it’s-on-FIRE finish.
So, being sick does have its advantages. Which brings me back to my original analogy:
Soup helps us see the forest through the trees. It gives us hope and a bigger picture. Sure, aches and pains are here. But we have each other, we have good medicine, we have the Great Healer, and we have GOOD SOUP. We are grateful.