Food can be delicious medicine, and what can be more comforting when you're down and out than a bowl of hot soup?
I hate popping pills of any kind, so when I get mildly sick, I usually turn to my kitchen to see what I can find to heal myself. If it's a cold, I'm lucky: I love nothing better than a cup of ginger tea: I just boil some water with a few slivers of ginger, add some black tea, strain it all, and then top it off with some soymilk. That, with an I Love Lucy rerun, is pure bliss.
When we were kids, my parents would make us some haldi ka doodh, or milk heated with cold-fighting spices and turmeric which is prized by cooks in India for its antiseptic properties. I make a version of it with soymilk and it is ultra-delicious.
When I have a cold, I also try to make quick soups so I can get all the comfort I need without standing around in the kitchen too long. My carrot-potato-celery soup is thick and velvety and just the perfect meal for those times when your head feels like it's made of lead, like mine did these past few days. Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to put together, thanks to some help from the microwave.
I added to this soup some old housewives' remedies proven to be great cold-busters: ginger, garlic and Vitamin C-rich foods like potato, celery and carrots as well as some sage which is one of my favorite herbs and also a proven cold-fighter. Ground black pepper and some cayenne to break through that congestion. And turmeric, of course.
Finally, for that extra dash of comfort, I topped off my soup with some homemade croutons.
So next time the cold bug bugs you, try this soup. Trust me, you'll feel way better.
Velvety Carrot-Celery-Potato Soup
(Makes about 4 servings)
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into a dice. Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with either a microwave-safe dish or plastic wrap, and throw them into the microwave for five minutes.
2 medium carrots, cut into a small dice
2 stalks celery, also cut into a small dice
1 medium onion, minced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp canola or olive oil
3-4 large sage leaves, minced very fine.
Water or vegetable stock, as needed
1/2 cup soymilk
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the ginger and garlic and stir for another minute.
Add the carrots, celery, cayenne, turmeric and ground black pepper. Stir and saute another 2-3 minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Now add enough water or stock to cover the vegetables, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer, covered, until the carrots are very tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the cooked potatoes (make sure they are tender) and stir in.
Now put all the vegetables and liquid into a blender and blend into a puree. You can make this very smooth, although I like mine just a little chunky. Be careful because the soup is very hot and you don't want to burn yourself. (If you have a hand-blender, you can blend the veggies in the skillet itself. Lucky you.)
Pour the vegetable puree back into the skillet over medium heat, add the soymilk, and let everything warm through. Add salt to taste, then sage.
Remove from heat, top with croutons, and enjoy!
For the croutons, I just cube up any bread I have on hand, toss it with some salt and oil and sometimes a little garlic powder, and bung it into the toaster oven for about 5 minutes or until it gets that crunchy golden crust.
Finally, a picture of another lovely comfort-giver: my cat Pubm!