WND – Chicken Soup

April 23, 2009


I hate being sick.  This is not an earth shattering secret.  Everyone hates being sick.  I’m particularly bitter about this cold since it’s finally nice weather outside, and being sick when it’s sunny and warm always feels like adding insult to injury.   No, my deep dark secret is that I don’t like chicken soup.  I don’t really like any variation on chicken soup either.  I don’t like matzo ball soup.  I don’t like chicken & dumplings.  I feel like such a bad sick person.

I love chicken broth.  I’ll heat it up and drink it out of a mug.  I’ll even go so far as to add the occasional wonton to it, or whisk some egg into it to make it a little more like an actual meal, but traditional chicken soup with the meat that’s been cooked too long, and the mushy carrots and celery just does nothing for me.

I know that chicken soup is supposed to be the universal panacea.  I watch shows on the Food Network where people extol the curative qualities of matzo ball soup, and while intellectually I can get excited by the tradition and culture embodied in a good bowl of chicken soup, I don’t actually want to eat it.

In days of yore, people force fed you beef tea and brought you shapes when you were sick.  As a child these always sounded exotic and enticing.  Who wouldn’t want a shape brought to them as they lay pathetically sniffling on the couch?  A shape conjured images of something geometrically intriguing, which must therefore also be tasty and satisfying to eat.  Disappointingly, a shape turns out to be a particularly bland form of blanc mange, (which given that a blanc mange is fairly bland to begin with is saying something) and somehow the wobbling of the shape detracts from its geometric interest.

Beef tea, another staple of period novels, also turns out to be less appetizing than advertised.  I always assumed that it was a beef broth, perhaps fortified with a nice shot of whisky or sherry.  I made the mistake of looking up a recipe for beef tea, and discovered that it’s not really beef broth at all.  Beef tea is traditionally made by steeping ground beef for in hot, but not boiling, water for several hours.  I’m trying hard not to imagine the color of the liquid that this process produces.  Beef broth, on the other hand, is made by roasting and then simmering beef bones and assorted vegetables for several hours.  I’m unclear as to why steeping beef is more heartening than roasted, simmered beef bones.  I am, however, entertained by the fact that Bovril, that classic British meat extract which can be added to soups, or dissolved in hot water and drunk to stave off the ill effects of standing around in the cold and rain at football matches, is no longer made with actual beef.  It’s now made from yeast extract, and apparently 99% of people can’t tell the difference.

When I’m sick what I really want is eggs.  I want soft boiled eggs with toast soldiers, and runny fried eggs served over buttery grits.  And for dessert, I want egg custard, because apparently raising my cholesterol level is what I need to get well.  I had custard on Saturday night in the form of île flottant, and I had baked eggs with buttery toast for dinner on Tuesday, and lo and behold I do in fact feel better now – of course the 15 hours I slept on Tuesday might also have had something to do with it.  However in deference to centuries of tradition,  Dinner this week was a compromise between a culturally ingrained knee jerk urge to eat chicken soup and the fact that I don’t really like chicken soup.

Turkey Meatball Soup
Cold cuts

Turkey Meatball Soup
This is the time to break out your homemade chicken stock.  Most of the flavor in the soup is going to come from the stock, and you aren’t adding much to it that’s going to change that base flavor, so the stock base needs to be really fantastic and store bought just isn’t going to cut it.


1 egg
2 Tbsp water
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
12 oz ground turkey
¼ cup parmesan
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Whisk the egg and water together, and then stir in the breadcrumbs and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add egg/breadcrumb mixture to all other ingredients and gently stir to combine.  Shape into 1 Tbsp size meatballs (can be larger if you prefer – or smaller, but I lack the patience to make my meatballs much smaller than this).  Chill for at least 30 minutes.


Note: Chilling the meatballs is important, because if you don’t they tend to fall apart when you try to cook them.  I made mine the night before and refrigerated them overnight.  If the recipe makes more meatballs than you need – I used 1lb of ground turkey and ended up with about 35 meatballs, but only needed 25 – just freeze the rest and stash them in your freezer for an easy spaghetti and meatball dinner at some future date.

8 cups (or more) chicken stock
2/3-3/4 cup orzo (or other small pasta)
4 cups chopped escarole, or other dark green (spinach, chard, etc.)

Bring stock to a simmer.  Add the meatballs.  When the meatballs have been cooking for 5 minutes add the orzo.  When the orzo has been cooking for 5 minutes add the escarole and simmer for another 5 minutes until everything is cooked and tender.


“I could just fancy some cheese, Gromit. What do you say? Cheddar?”
– Wallace & Grommit


Cold Cuts



  1. See, and now I just want to know how to bake eggs….

    • Ah let’s see. The recipe (for 2 people) I make all the time is:

      Slice an onion.
      Saute in a drizzle of olive oil until softened and beginning to brown (5-10 minutes).
      Salt & pepper, add a dash of thyme if you have it.

      Add 1 bag of fresh baby spinach.
      Saute until wilted and excess liquid has evaporated.
      Add 1/4 cup heavy cream.
      Cook until most of cream has evaporated.

      Divide between two greased dishes (I use pie plates, but there are such things as gratin dishes just for this sort of thing).
      Crack two eggs/dish and nestle into spinach.
      Sprinkle with a little parmesan.

      Bake in a 400 oven for 8-10 minutes, or until whites are set, but yolks are a little runny (unless you don’t like runny yolks in which case cook for another 1-2 minutes).

      Serve with buttered toast.

  2. Out of curiosity, any reason why I can’t just skip the whole onion/spinach/parmesan part of it and just put 2 eggs on a buttered/pammed glass dish and put the whole thing in the toaster oven?

    • I don’t see why not, although I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure.

  3. […] Recipe previously given:  Chicken Soup […]

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