Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I've Turned Into My Mom

My mom lives in Hawaii and for years she’s been bugging me to make myself soup. She’s a firm believer in the fresh nutrients of homemade soup. I always tell her I’m just one person and I can hardly drink all the soup she typically makes in her large pot. But as some of you know, I’m now a big soup person after I got a hand blender for Christmas.

I’ve also become a bit like my mom because I like to make my soup to share. My mom makes soup almost every week, and she’ll often give a pot to my younger brother and his family. Here in the Bay Area, it’s been rainy so a lot of people have been catching the cold (or some nasty virus). When my friend Vera got sick recently, I came up with this homemade chicken soup to help her feel better.

I packed it with ingredients that would boost her immune system or help in her recovery: chicken (for protein, or course), onion (Vitamin A), garlic (Vitamin A and a decongestant), carrots (beta carotene for the immune system), parsnip (Vitamin C and folate, but mostly for the aroma), and tomato (lycopene for the immune system). Besides the nutrients, soup helps you stay hydrated. (When they say drink lots of liquids, it’s not just water. Soup counts.)

What’s also different about my soup than traditional chicken soup is that I puree all the ingredients (except the chicken) because I believe that when you’re sick, you’re too tired to even chew. I also think that if someone’s going to chuck my soup out from her stomach, I don’t want to be seeing all sorts of bits and pieces. (I know, TMI.)

This soup recipe is also the rare instance where I make the broth from scratch instead of using canned chicken broth. I just feel that if you want to make yourself or a friend feel better, do it right and make sure everything is done fresh and clean. I don’t want to be blamed for making someone feel sicker.

Writing this post reminds me of an essay I wrote several years ago when I was working for the San Jose Mercury News. A friend in the lifestyle section asked if I wanted to write something for cold season and I wrote a first-person essay about how it sucks to be sick when single because people are too busy these days to come by with chicken soup. When the essay came out, a couple of people at work were nice enough to come up to me and tell me they’d bring me soup if I got sick. But surprisingly, I had more negative responses from readers. One woman called me, told me I was a whiner, and promptly hung up. Another guy emailed me and asked if I ever went and gave my friends chicken soup when they were sick. I felt spurned by society when all I wanted was some chicken soup, and maybe some comfort.

Sigh. Anywho, I make this soup now for myself to keep myself healthy so I can avoid getting a cold. Try it for yourself, or make it for your sick single friend.

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