Mama’s Remedy

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

It’s flu season and the season for the debate about the effectiveness and safety of the annually changing flu vaccination, prescribed antiviral drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers. Unless you’re at a high risk of developing a flu complication (young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with chronic illness and weakened immune system), hominess is the best and safest way to let your flu fly away without subjecting yourself to any potential side effects.

So take your flu as an excuse to get cozy and snuggle in your blanket for a day or so in the cold weather and try to recharge body and mind generally! While fluid drinking is important to keep you well hydrated, there’s nothing that could replace mama’s go-to sick-day-food: the one and only magic chicken soup! It might not kill your virus right away but it surely comes with the best remedies that help your body fight the virus away: nourishment and love!

My mama’s chicken soup recipe

Ingredients (for 6 portions):

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 medium carrots cut in thin rounds
  • ½ cup of sushi or Egyptian rice
  • Spices for flavoring the chicken: 2-4 bay leaves, 1-2 cinnamon stick, ginger root, whole peppercorns, whole cloves and whole cardamoms
  • Water
  • Salt (optional)

Preparation Steps:

  1. Place chicken in saucepan. Add water to cover chicken.
  2. Bring to boil on medium-high heat or cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Remove chicken form saucepan and wash it with cold water. Disregard boiling water.
  4. Add chicken, spices and cold water in saucepan and bring to boil again or cook for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Drain broth and keep it to be used as the soup fluid.
  6. Disregard spices and shred chicken into small pieces.
  7. Add broth and carrot to saucepan and bring to boil. Add shredded chicken and rice and let it cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy the warmth and the soothing flavors of this hearty soup…and get well soon!

Chéri Chicory

Chicory

Chicory

Lately, chicory is on my mind as I crave a good vegetarian winter dish!

I don’t find chicory very often in stores here, but when I do I take great advantage: I eat it raw as a snack! Now you’re probably imagining a farm pet munching on a grassy meadow, that’s not exactly the case, although I don’t hate the bitterness of its raw leaves, I only snack on the un-leafy stem part of chicory, which is less bitter, crunchy and has a rich taste that makes celery so dull in comparison (you’re probably still imagining a munching pet; my husband often tells me that I should have been born as a bunny, I take that).

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Chicory – Leaves and stems separated
While leaves can be used for cooking or in salads, stems are a great, crunchy and refreshing snack.

I also prepare chicory as a salad with a light, homemade vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice and herbs). However, the ultimate way to really savor the best of chicory is to cook it for a short time in boiling water then sauté it with caramelized onions and lemon juice… so yummy with pita bread!

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A popular countryside vegetarian meal in the Middle East
An assortment of sautéed chicory or dandelion with pita bread, cabbage-and-tomato salad, lentil-and-rice pilaf and greek yogurt

Chicory is a preferred ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Wild and cultivated varieties are both popular. They are mainly used in salads nevertheless they can be a perfect replacement to any leafy vegetable in many cooked dishes. From Provence to the Middle East recipes abound and vary but chicory’s draw is the same: an appetizing taste, a medicinal character (detoxing, diuretic and tonic) and a great nutritional content. Chicory is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals mainly folic acid, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C.