Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Island Doesn't Want Me Back

I was so excited to get back up to Vermont.  The weather was perfect this week and I was going to spend it kicking ass in the garden.  Unfortunately I came down with a @#$%^&! cold.  I've felt so lousy and out-of-it that I've pretty much spent the last four days in bed.

It feels like I've been away from my life for nearly two months and I'm not allowed to get back to it yet.

Of course I could look at it that this is my life now.  Oy.

Today I worked up enough energy to make some soup which I'm pretty sure will cure me.  Here's the recipe:

Chicken Soup with Lemongrass and Dried Mushrooms

A generous handful of dried mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
4 slices peeled fresh ginger
1 large lemongrass stalk, cut into 2" pieces and crushed (or 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest)
16 fresh kaffir lime leaves or the grated zest of 1 large lime
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 to 3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon red chili paste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 pound fresh white mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 small fresh green or red chilies, sliced crosswise, paper-thin
Fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves

  1. Rinse the dried mushrooms and remove their stems.  Place the mushrooms in a small bowl with enough hot water to cover them.  Soak them while you're prepping the other ingredients.  Take the mushrooms out of the water,  reserving the mushroom broth.  Slice mushrooms. 
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the stock, mushroom broth, ginger, lemongrasss and lime leaves or lime zest. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer. Add the lime or lemon juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, dried mushrooms and chile paste. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and simmer until tender 4 to 5 minutes, add the fresh mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 1 minute.
  4. To serve ladle soup into warmed bowls. Float the chili slices and cilantro leaves on top.
Serves 4 to 6.

I got this recipe somewhere.  I may even have blogged about it before - I don't remember.  I added the bits about the dried mushrooms - I'm addicted to them.  I've also never used kaffir lime leaves.  The markets I usually go to don't have them.  In fact, the best I could do with the lemongrass at our nearest grocery store (in Walpole, NH) was a tube of lemongrass purée.  It worked okay I guess.

The main thing is the combination of the chicken broth, citrus, sugar and spicy/garlicky chili paste.  I'm convinced that this combo is very healing for colds and flus.  I had some soup for lunch and for dinner and I'm feeling a lot better now.  Really.

I think I made it vegetarian once, with tofu and vegetable broth, and it was really good - even healing.  I wasn't sick then though.  Another variation is to add 28 oz. (2 cans) of unsweetened coconut milk at step 3.  That makes a good soup but I think it's too heavy to help with a cold/flu.

Oh man, that reminds me - I read a recipe for home made Nyquil ages ago and I've never tried it out.  I'm not gonna start now either - way too labor intensive for a sick person.

1 comment:

Hope said...

Ugh. I've been sick since Wednesday. I seriously feel your pain.