Wow, it is cold out there…and I’m seriously trying to avoid catching one! And serious germ warfare requires an equally serious weapon: Momma’s Chicken Noodle Soup.
Okay, I know that soup doesn’t actually cure the common cold, but it sure does make you feel better. Soup warms you up, inside and out, and it keeps you hydrated. As it turns out, your momma was right about drinking plenty of fluids when you’re sick: staying hydrated helps your body fight off an infection and it can lessen both the severity and the duration of the infection, too. Not only that, the steam from a hot bowl of soup opens up the nasal passages and the broth soothes a sore throat.
I’ve never written my recipe down (until now) but it always has the same key “feel-good” ingredients. Dark leafy greens, like spinach and parsley, are loaded with vitamins A and C (as are the tomatoes). The capsaicin in the crushed red chili peppers clears a stuffy nose and congested lungs. Fresh garlic is even reputed to be a natural antibiotic. Sometimes I will add a few tablespoons of minced fresh ginger to soothe an upset stomach, if that’s a symptom that we’re treating.
Typically, I will use whatever noodles that we have on hand: broken up angel hair, rotini or my new favorite: Tofu Shirataki noodles (made popular by the low carb craze). But tonight, the girl requested dumplings rather than noodles, so I omitted the noodles from the recipe. Although I like dumplings, I don’t like how goopy they make the soup after cooking. So, I cook the dumplings in a separate pot of broth and then add the dumplings to each individual soup bowl. That way, the leftover soup isn’t tainted by dumpling goo!
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Momma’s Chick’n Noodle Soup
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 cup chopped sweet onion (1 small)
1 cup carrots (about 3), sliced in half coins
1 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
2 32-ounce cartons No Chicken broth
2 bunches fresh parsley, washed (1 bunch securely tied up in cheesecloth and 1 bunch chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
2 to 4 cups fresh baby spinach (optional, but I always add it in for an extra vitamin boost when we are feeling under the weather)
1 14.5-ounce can Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes with juice
1 6.5-ounce tofu cutlet (or pressed extra-firm tofu), cubed small
2 8-ounce packages spaghetti shape Tofu Shirataki noodles
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots and sauté just until the garlic is aromatic, a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, tie the parsley securely in a square of cheese cloth. Add in the celery and carrot tops, if you have them, for extra flavor and nutrients in the broth.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken broth, cheesecloth parsley, dill and crushed red chili peppers. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, rinse the Shirataki noodles and cook according to package directions. Rinse the noodles after cooking and cut them into 1 to 2″ pieces; set aside.
Add the spinach, tomatoes, diced tofu and noodles. Cover the pot and continue to cook until heated throughout and the spinach is a vibrant green.
Carefully remove the cheesecloth parsley with a large slotted spoon, squeeze out the excess broth (return the broth to the pot) and discard. Add the fresh chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.
Note: I typically do not add salt to my dishes when cooking. Instead, I add a sprinkle of freshly ground sea salt at the table.
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Whole Wheat Dumplings
Makes 8 to 10 dumplings
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain soy milk
3 Tablespoons canola oil
Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the soy milk and the oil in a separate bowl and then add to the dry mixture; mix well.
Drop the dumplings by large tablespoons into the boiling broth or soup. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer on medium low heat for 10 minutes. Turn halfway through the cooking time, if necessary.