This week Sweet Baby Grace is sick. For the first 18 years of Gracie’s life, under my watch, she has only been sick a handful of times. I chalk this up to a healthy Santa Barbara lifestyle of organic fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, juicing, zero stress, two years of breast-feeding (as a baby, obviously) and loads of sunshine. Not so much here in Paris… And for the past year and a half that we have lived here, Gracie has been sick more times that I am comfortable with. I chalk this up to the cold weather, lack of sunshine in the winter, the pressure of becoming a semi-adult, living in a bustling city, lack of breast-feeding (kidding) and the simple fact that Gracie dresses like she still lives in Santa Barbara. Every time Gracie gets sick here in Paris I always tell her the same thing… “You need to eat some chicken noodle soup, drink green juice, stay off the Metro, and for God sake put some clothes on!”
Chicken noodle soup is not exactly flourishing over here in Paris. In Los Angeles, I could go directly to my favorite Jerry’s Famous Deli and order up a piping hot bowl of chicken noodle soup with matzoh balls and bagel chips. When I was at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, nearly dead with a collapsed lung after diaphragm pacer surgery, with strange tubes and wires coming every which way out of my body, jacked up on oxycodone, my little voice eeked out one phrase, “Please get me some chicken noodle soup from Jerry’s Famous Deli across the street.” (I probably didn’t say please, though.) It did the trick because two days later I walked out of the hospital on my own 2 feet.
I am lucky enough to have a remarkable friend in Santa Barbara named Mer. Mer is exactly like Tinkerbell in that she flits in unexpectedly, sprinkles some magic dust, and then just as fast as she came in through the windows… She flies back out. You can never quite “catch her.” But it doesn’t matter because that’s part of her charm. When we were living in Santa Barbara, Mer would pop over to my house and just give me stuff. She would bring me roses from her garden… The apricot colored David Austin roses that smelled like cake or the bright yellow ones that could cheer anyone up. Sometimes she would just drop off my favorite Diptyque Bais scented candle or a huge coffee table book from Assouline. Mer is the type of woman who would literally give you the shirt off of her back. One day, Mer came to my house wearing this great blue and white striped thin sweater. I told her that I loved her sweater and as fast as I got that sentence out Mer took off the sweater and just gave it to me. I think she went home in just her bra. Another day, I mentioned to Mer that I loved this lemon chicken soup from a Greek restaurant in Santa Barbara. Without fail, my Mer would drive from her house in Montecito (side note: Mer’s house is awesome. It was decorated by interior designer Erin Martin (love her) and featured in House Beautiful Magazine. Click HERE to see.) into Santa Barbara, schlep into the busy restaurant, order the soup for me, wait for it and then drive it over to my house and secretly leave it in my kitchen. This was a period in my life when I was only a few months into my official ALS diagnosis and it was wreaking havoc on my body, tearing me down mentally and physically day by day. I have to say, I was really struggling and that lemon chicken noodle soup just soothed my soul as did my friendship with Mer.
Now that we are living in Paris and there is no Jerry’s Famous Deli Chicken Noodle Soup nor any Santa Barbara Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, my go-to soup to stay healthy is a Thai Chicken Coconut Soup. Authentic Thai food is abundant in Paris and the Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Soup is exactly what Hippocrates was talking about for healing foods. Perfect on wintry Parisian nights if you are feeling under the weather.
So, in today’s blog, let’s look at four recipes… Regular Chicken Noodle Soup, Flu Buster Chicken Noodle Soup, Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup and Thai Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Soup. But first, let’s learn some secrets to the perfect Old School Chicken Noodle Soup…
• Throw in a parsnip for flavor.
• Use a dash of Tumeric.
• Cook the noodles separately so they remain al dente and do not get mushy.
• Make a homemade chicken stock the day before.
• Add Glace de Poulet
• Throw in a leek for flavor
• Always make plenty of soup so you can freeze the leftovers… In case of an emergency.
• When serving, add freshly grated Parmesan.
• Never use bouillon cubes… They are high in salt and MSG and probably cause ALS and a host of other neurological diseases.
• In a pinch, a premade rotisserie chicken is totally okay to use… My mom said so.
Okay, let’s look at those recipes…
Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup from Smitten Kitchen. Recipe HERE.
Flu Buster Chicken Noodle Soup from Baker by Nature. Recipe HERE.
Greek Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup. Recipe HERE.
Thai Chicken Soup by Heather Christo. Recipe HERE.
Chicken soup mastered! Next up, we have to talk Chicken Pot Pie. I have a secret chef for the Chicken Pot Pie blog that I feel very fortunate to be “cyber friends” with. Stay tuned…
*Something you don’t know about me? When I was young my parents gave me a Bible after I was baptized with my name monogrammed (emblazoned) on the front cover in gold cursive script. I still have it and if you open it up there is a John Denver concert backstage pass sticker plastered over the first page and a note under it that I wrote at the tender age of 12 that says, “I love John Denver more than Jesus.”