I hope you’ve been able to stand off a cold or the flu this winter, but if you haven’t, or if you’re looking after someone in the throes of coughing, sneezing, complaining of imminent death, leaving their dirty Kleenexes all over the house, warning of imminent death, calling for more tea, moaning about imminent death, making throat noises that sound as if they should be emanating from a drain pipe rather than a human being – well, obviously, my husband is home sick.
There are several things that are well-known to help us get over a cold: vitamin C, citrus-based drinks, hot teas and soups to keep the nasal passages and throat moist, and lots of liquids to avoid dehydration. Popsicles are good for aching throats for the same reason. For the flu, ginger and bananas are both helpful in alleviating nausea, and recovery can be sped along by sticking to bland foods like saltines and plain cooked rice.
Of course there is chicken soup, the ultimate cold-fighter. Most people have their own favorite recipes for chicken soup, so I thought it would be helpful to provide a variation on the theme: grilled chicken udon noodle soup. It’s peppier, with ginger and cilantro, black and white sesame seeds, scallions and lemon – and the surprising addition of grilled chicken. The udon noodles are thick and satisfying, and before you know it you’ll be slurping up this classic Japanese soup along with the best of them. This soup may come from Japan, but it deserves to be adopted into the pantheon of great American foods everyone should know. The flavors are so potent, the smells so rich and clean that even if you’re too stuffed up to smell anything, you’ll feel as though as those good ingredients are being absorbed through the skin, and you’re better already. I think you’re going to love this recipe!
Prep time: 25 minutes
- 3 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to be thin
- 2 quarts of your favorite chicken stock (I use Knorr bouillon cubes, one cube per cup of water)
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- juice of ½ lemon, plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 8-ounce container of udon noodles
- 1 cup fresh sugar snap peas
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- pinch of cayenne pepper to taste
- white and black sesame seeds for garnish
- 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
- Grill boneless chicken breasts until cooked through on a grill that has been sprayed with cooking spray, allowing the edges to brown. Set aside.
- Fill large soup pot with chicken stock and add ginger, lemon juice, lemon grass, sesame oil, and soy sauce and cook at medium heat for 20 minutes.
- In a separate pot, bring several quarts of water to a boil and cook udon noodles until tender – about five minutes.
- Lift enough udon noodles for one serving into a bowl. Pour in the hot soup over it, and add peas, spinach, scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds.
- Add a pinch of cayenne and correct seasoning (adding more cayenne if you like it hot).