As I’m typing this, my little man is napping, something he usually deigns to do. On any given day, it takes all my energy and an earful of crying to get him to go down for just 45 minutes. Today, he has been sleeping the deep yet uneasy slumber of a sick toddler for an hour and counting.
We were up most of last night, nursing a 103 degree Farenheit-plus temperature which only a dose of ibuprofen and a whole lot of lovin’ could temper. I didn’t have the heart to leave him lying solo and miserable so I brought him to bed with us. Unfortunately, he tossed and turned, unsure if he wanted to sleep bum up in the air, face buried in pillow, or head toward the foot of the bed. At one point, he accepted an invitation to a midnight rave and danced around the bed before slumping down next to my face on my pillow. Needless to say, we woke up a very sleep-deprived family.
My only consolation is that my folks are visiting and my mom is taking charge of the kitchen. And she, like all grandmas, makes the perfect cure-all: chicken soup. The comforting power of chicken soup is legendary in all cultures, and its ability to heal, magical. Isaac loves his Oma’s rendition of chicken soup and will gulp down bowls-full whether he is in the pink of health or not.
So while he is still sleeping, my mom and I hunker down in the kitchen. We chop carrots, celery and cabbage while bone-in chicken and green onions simmer in a steaming broth laced with nutmeg. The vegetables soon find their way into the pot, a large one containing enough sustenance for the whole family to partake in at dinnertime. On this grey and gloomy almost-fall day, we could all do with a little physical and spiritual nourishment.
Oma’s Chicken Soup
Bone-in chicken parts add flavor and depth (not to mention, extra nutrients) to the soup. Feel free to use chicken breast instead and do toss in any vegetables you might have lying around in your fridge. Interesting pasta shapes will intrigue your sick little one enough to try some soup.
Time: 1 hour (20 minutes active)
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
2 whole chicken leg quarters
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fried shallots
1 whole nutmeg, or a few sprinkles of ground nutmeg
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ green small cabbage, cored and chopped into 1-1/2 inch squares
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Green onions for garnish
Fried shallots for garnish
Cooked white rice for serving
In a large pot, combine the chicken and 10 cups of water over medium heat. Add the green onions, fried shallots, and nutmeg.
Cover and simmer until the chicken is almost cooked through, about 20 minutes, skimming the scum off regularly. Remove the chicken from the pot and scrape the meat off the bone. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Return the chicken and bones to the pot.
Add the carrots and celery and cook until tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt and sugar.
Remove the bones and nutmeg. Add the cabbage and turn off the heat.
To serve, scoop rice into individual bowls and spoon the soup over. Garnish with green onions and fried shallots.