Getting sick is a hassle. And getting sick smack in the middle of cold season can wreck havoc with your life.
The good news is, you can help clear your sinuses and relieve that sore throat with a hot pot of nutritious broth and mugs of soothing beverages that will make you feel ever so much better. This list of soups and toddies won’t rid you of that red nose, but they’ll make getting out of bed early to get to work all the more bearable:
#1. Onion and Garlic Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is the cure-all for a variety of head-heavy illnesses, and topped with medicinal garlic plus flavorful onion, you’ve got yourself a hearty toddy to ward off that cold.
- a whole chicken or chicken parts
- 3 scallions
- 1 bunch cilantro, trimmed stalks and roots included
- 2 carrots, halved
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 small shallots, or 4 large shallots, peeled and halved
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound egg noodles or straight wheat noodles
In a large pot, place the chicken or chicken parts, scallions, cilantro (if using), carrots, and black peppercorns, and add about three quarts of water. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer, uncovered. If you’re using a whole chicken, remove it when the meat is tender, after about an hour and a half. Set the chicken aside to cool. If using chicken parts with very little meat, you can let the broth simmer for longer, if you like. When the broth is ready, strain and set aside the chicken parts. (I like to gently press the cooked carrots through the sieve, which adds some body to the broth.)
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip off the meat into shreds and set aside in a bowl. If using chicken parts, strip off any meat that remains. (A chicken back, for example, hides a surprising amount of meat.)
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
When the broth is strained, add the fish sauce and salt and taste. Bring the broth back to a simmer, add the shallots, garlic, and onions, and cook for about 15 or 20 minutes, until the alliums are soft and sweet. In the separate pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until al dente.
Serve the soup in large bowls, placing some meat and a small clump of noodles in each bowl and then pouring the soup over it. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if using. Serves 4, with soup left over.
#2. Hot and Sour Soup
If you’re looking to melt that cold away, this is the ultimate.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, minced, plus more for garnish
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 4 cups store-bought or homemade chicken stock
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste
- 2 large eggs White or black pepper for garnish
- 1 pound soft or firm tofu (not silken and not extra firm), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 or 5 medium button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced (or substitute dried, rehydrated wood ear mushrooms) – 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
In the saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and pork and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. You want to break up the pork into smaller pieces with a spoon, but don’t worry about breaking it down completely or cooking it through.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, and Sriracha sauce and bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Taste the soup. If you want it hotter, add more Sriracha sauce; if you want it more sour, add more vinegar.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. With the soup at a steady simmer, slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Bring the soup back to a simmer. Divide the soup among 4 to 6 bowls and garnish each with a little sesame oil, scallion, and white or black pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
#3. Honey Butternut Squash Soup
Hot, rich and thick, and coupled with a heel of bread, is just right for that head cold.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (use two if they’re small)
- 1 Idaho potato, peeled and diced 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons hot honey plus more to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pot, heat the butter and sauté the onions and garlic until softened. Add the ground ginger and cumin. Do not burn the garlic. Next, add the squash, potato, and chicken stock and cook, covered, on high heat until the squash is cooked and softened. If you don’t allow the squash to cook fully, the texture will not be nice when blended, so that is an important step.
Allow to cool. Blend in batches until the entire soup is puréed and creamy. Return to the pot, add the cream and hot honey, stir well, and allow to simmer on low heat for another 30 minutes. Finish by adding salt and pepper to taste.
Please note you will most likely need to adjust the amounts in this recipe, because the flavor will depend on how large and sweet your squash is, how heavy your cream is, and also how hot your honey is, not to mention that small things, such as the age of your ground spices, can affect their flavor. So be ready to taste and alter a couple times before serving. Serve with a big crusty baguette or with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche and some chopped chives. Serves 4 to 6.
#4. Spicy Tomato Soup
We all know tomatoes are rich in Lycopene, Vitamin C, Biotin and other anti-oxidants. Now imagine all that goodness in a healing stew.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and very tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, plus the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the simmer time — just add a bit less water.) Add the basil, season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off).
Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula or ladle; discard the solids. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat on medium low until hot. If you choose, serve topped with a tablespoon of crème fraîche. Serves 6.
And now for the drinks…
#5. Dirty Chai Toddy
Unlike the name suggests, however, the Dirty Chai Toddy isn’t all that dirty, per se, but has been inspired by soothing chai tea with a shot of espresso. Just the hot drink to soothe your flu away.
- 8 ounces half and half
- 4 ounces water
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 2 black cardamom pods, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 5-6 pink peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
- 2 sachets of organic whole leaf black tea, preferably Assam
- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and flattened with the flat side of a large knife
Dirty Toddy Ingredients:
- 2 ounces espresso (like Stumptown Roasters Hairbender)
- 2 ounces Knob Creek, or other good quality bourbon
Combine half and half, water, spices and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add black tea sachets and steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea sachets, strain out spices and split chai between two pre-warmed teacups. Add one ounce of espresso and one ounce of bourbon to each teacup. Serves 2. Sit back with a friend and enjoy.
#6. Dried Cherries and Lime Drink
This hot easy-to-make drink can be refreshingly soothing for your throat…not to mention loaded with Vitamin C.
- 2-inch-long piece lime zest
- 4 dried cherries
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar
- 2 ounces rye (or other dark spirit)
- 6 ounces boiling water
In a mug, combine the lime zest, dried cherries, and sugar. Add the rye. Pour in the boiling water, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Serves 1. Sip and enjoy!
#7. Kentucky Hot Toddy
It actually has hot bourbon, but is balanced with honey and citrus to ensure you won’t get in over your head.
- 1/4 cup Fresh Squeezed Meyers Lemon Juice
- 1/2 cup Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- 1 Shot of Makers Mark Bourbon
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Hot Water
In each tumbler combine juices with honey and bourbon. Add just enough hot water to fill the glass not quite to the top. Serve with cinnamon stick.
Warm up before serving. Good for one.
#8. Classic Hot Toddy
Spicier than hot green tea, this drink contains liquor for added warmth.
- Choose your base spirit (bourbon, whiskey, aged rum, Scotch or tequila…whatever moves you)
- Top off with boiling water infused with your chosen spice (such as ginger or vanilla)
- Add a garnish if you feel fancy (try lemon, honey, sugar, mead, cinnamon, or ginger)
Stir and drink up.
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