Thursday, January 6, 2011

I feel as if my cold has slipped into its flannel pajamas and settled in my chest for a long winter’s nap.

It’s 4 a.m. and I can’t sleep.

Last night, I smothered myself in Vicks, pulled the covers over my head and hoped it would help. I can’t tell because after four hours or so of actual sleep the Nyquil wore off and I started coughing again.

I plan to spend today resting between the couch and the bed and hopefully recuperate. I will be drinking tea and eating soup because those are the only things that seem to soothe my throat.

Last night, I made another batch of soup full of healthy vegetables. I also added some chicken because my husband probably wouldn’t consider it a meal otherwise. Though, honestly, the soup doesn’t need any meat.

To boost the “the healing properties” in my soup, I infused the subtle, peppery flavors of ginger root into the stock. Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes in its native India and China for centuries. The knobby herb is used to treat a variety of ailments such as fevers, nausea, indigestion, suppressing coughs, arthritis and more.

I’ve even steeped ginger and lemon together to make a tea when I’ve had a sore throat in the past. I’m just fond of ginger and figured it would taste good in the soup too.

I made this hearty winter soup to help me get over my cold, but I think you’ll also enjoy it because it’s simply good.

Afiyet Olsun!

Beans ‘N’ Greens Winter Soup

1 ½      c.         250 g.  dried white kidney beans, soaked in cold water overnight
5          c.         1.5 L.   chicken stock or water
1 ½-2”                         fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1          T.                     olive oil
1 ½      c.         150 g.  leeks, rinsed, halved and thinly sliced
1          c.         100 g.  shitake mushrooms, sliced
2-3       ea.                    carrots, halved and thinly sliced
2          ea.                    celery sticks, halved and thinly sliced
5-6       ea.                    garlic cloves, chopped small
¼         c.                     fresh parsley, chopped small
½         tsp.                  dried thyme
1          ea.                    bay leaf
TT                                salt and black pepper
3.5       oz.       100 g.  leafy greens such as spinach, kale, dandelion or chard (I only used spinach and probably would increase the amount a bit next time.)
8          oz.       250 g.  boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped small

1. Take the soaked beans from the fridge. Drain. Rinse again with fresh water. Drain.
2. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2 to 3 inches. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
3. Bring the beans to a simmer, covering with a lid. The beans will need to cook about 1 hour. As the cooking time nears, test a few and taste if they are soft.
4. While the beans are cooking, heat the chicken stock with the ginger. Bring to a boil for a minute or turn. Then, turn off the heat, covering the pot with a lid and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain.
5. Next, in a third pot, heat the vegetable oil in another 6-8 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the leeks, mushrooms, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté the vegetables for a few minutes until they begin to soften.

6. Next, add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Taking a handful at a time, cut the greens into strips with a kitchen shears and place into the pot. Cover the greens with the chicken stock, adding the chicken and bring the mixture to a simmer.
7. Then turn the heat down to low while the beans finish cooking, stirring often. At this point, your beans should almost be done.
7. When the beans are ready, strain off the water. Add the beans to the soup. Let the soup cook for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle together.
8. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings as needed. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Note: If you use canned beans, you can skip several steps and add the beans at the same time as the chicken.

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