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The cure and comfort of soup

Recipe Swap: Hearty Chicken Soup, and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

a bowl of hearty chicken soup

Cough, cough, cough! That’s the sound of January. Sit through any meeting, classroom or other public gathering and you’ll hear it.

Maybe we’re the one coughing. We should stay home, say health authorities, because it’s when we insist on, cough, trying, sneeze, to go about our regular routines, cough, that we spread our germs around.

Have you had a winter cold yet? Are you down with one now? There’s no cure for the common cold. But there is comfort.

It’s called soup. Researchers have even looked at the curative qualities of chicken soup and find it can act as a mild anti-inflammatory while loosening congestion when we’re sick.

Soup has long been a remedy for illness.

In Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen, author Mary Ann Kirby writes of maultosche, a name Hutterites have for soup which means “big cheek soup,” and served to those who are ill, as well as the elderly and new moms.

Soup is good for us, sick or well. A bowl of low-calorie soup can help lower overall calorie intake at a meal making it a good weight-loss habit. Soup can contain any number of healthy ingredients too, from always good-for-you vegetables to whole grains such as barley and quinoa.

Soup, of course, is a healthy choice in other ways too. It provides much-needed daily fluid, especially for those of us who don’t usually consume the required nine to 12 cups of fluid per day.

Soup is a great way to use up odds and ends in the fridge, so making it frequently can reduce food waste. There are literally endless ways to combine ingredients for soup.

Soup feeds us on another level too. We told you awhile back about a collection of soup recipes Winnipegger Wendy Erlanger had combined into a cookbook she called More Than Soup after realizing the way she and others were taking care of numerous sick friends and family members was by making pot after pot of soup.

Soup warms the heart, and there’s good reason why popular self-care books are about soup and the soul.

Hearty Chicken Soup

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 medium potatoes, skin on, cubed
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 c. chopped cooked chicken
  • 3 c. chicken stock
  • 1 can evaporated milk (354 ml — skim or 2 per cent)
  • 2 tbsp. flour

Melt butter in a soup pot. Add onion and curry powder and stir-cook over medium heat until onions are softened. Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery, oregano, parsley, chicken and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Mix evaporated milk and flour until free of lumps. Pour into soup and stir-cook until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with whole wheat soda bread.

Freezes well.

Preparation time: 30 minutes.
Cook time: 45 minutes.

Serves: 4 to 6.


Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 6 c. chicken broth
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 c. wide egg noodles
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 c. frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Pour chicken broth into a saucepan. Add celery and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in chicken, noodles, and pepper; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add frozen vegetables and cook for another five minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Variation: Bring to a boil six cups chicken broth, two cloves minced garlic, one tbsp. minced fresh ginger, one tbsp. soy sauce and one tbsp. lemon juice. Stir in 1-1/2 cups cooked chicken and two cups frozen stir-fry vegetable mix and simmer five minutes. Stir in three oz. rice vermicelli and continue cooking for about two more minutes or until vermicelli is tender.

Tip: Need cooked chicken but don’t have time to cook? Bring home a rotisserie chicken from the deli counter at the grocery store. It only takes a few minutes to take the meat off the bones and cut it up. You’ll get about three cups of cooked chopped chicken – enough to make this recipe and have 1-1/2 cups left over. Use the extra for tomorrow’s lunch or wrap it tightly in foil and freeze it for up to three months.

Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Cook time: 25 minutes.
Serves: 4.

A change is coming

When I started writing this column, BSE was still to come, the term 100-mile diet had not been coined, and no one knew what love — and scrutiny — would come farmers’ way during a decade of intensifying interest in where food comes from.

Suffice it to say, there’s always something to write about in a food column each week. The challenge of choosing is little like what to make for supper.

I’ve had help, and appreciate all of it, especially from the home economists and dietitians I’ve consulted on various matters and often quoted here.

It’s been rewarding to select and pair a few recipes with this column each week too. (That’s one of those tough jobs but someone has to do it!) I’ve appreciated recipes sent my way from readers, as well as those from commodity organizations such as Manitoba Canola Growers Association, Dairy Farmers of Canada, and many others.

I’ve also appreciated your feedback on this column, and hope at least some of the recipes featured have been enjoyed around your table.

This is my last contribution to The Recipe Swap. Next week you’ll see a change to this page. We’re switching Prairie Fare written by North Dakota State University professor and food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, who you’ll already be reading in the Country Crossroads section, to these pages. I’ll continue writing about food matters elsewhere in the paper, and will be contributing short features to this page on new made-in-Manitoba food products and the people and stories behind them.

Thank you for all your interest, feedback and support of The Recipe Swap.

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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