I like to think of this concoction as what would happen if a traditional bubbe met up with a Thai grandmother and they put their wise grey heads together to create the ultimate Thai-inspired Jewish penicillin.
It’s a riff off of Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut chicken soup), and it will cure what ails ya. I’ve been whipping up this soup every time I feel that telltale tickle in the back of my throat, and while it’s not my only line of defense (other stalwarts include zinc lozenges, echinacea tincture, and neti pot irrigation), it’s a key player in my fight to avoid going down hard.
This isn’t an entirely traditional Thai soup, like you’d find in (the very excellent) Thai Food, by David Thompson. But it’s doable with easily obtained items, and you can keep most of the ingredients in your pantry and freezer for when they need to be deployed quickly.
Mamagotcha’s Healing Soup
2-4 chicken thighs
4-6 cups chicken broth (homemade is best, but use what you’ve got)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
Head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (how to peel a whole head of garlic in 10 seconds)
2 heaping tablespoons Thai Kitchen curry paste (red or green)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 (or more) tablespoons finely grated ginger (it’s easier to grate with your Microplane if you keep your ginger in the freezer)
2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) fish sauce (you can use salt if you don’t have this, but the fish sauce is better… and it does NOT taste fishy!)
1 can coconut milk (NOT lowfat. Shake it up well first!)
2 large jalapeno or serrano chilies, finely chopped
(Optional: red or yellow bell pepper, bean sprouts, tomatoes, sliced mushrooms or straw mushrooms, those cute li’l canned baby corns, zucchini… whatever sounds good to you! Just chop it pretty fine so the residual heat can cook it if it needs it)
Juice of 1 lime (plus wedges for serving)
A big handful of chopped cilantro (I use about half a bunch)
Heat the broth and add the thighs, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Let simmer just below a boil for 40 minutes. If you like, skim off any extra fat, foam, or gunk you don’t want.
Remove thighs and let cool on a cutting board. To the broth, add the curry paste (ladle out a scoop of broth and stir the paste in to dissolve, then add back to the pot), brown sugar, ginger, fish sauce, coconut milk, and chilies (along with any of the optional suggestions). Don’t let it return to a boil, but gently simmer while you remove and chop the meat off the chicken thighs (you can remove the skin, fry it up, and sprinkle with salt to make what we call “chicken bacon”).
Return the chopped meat to the pot and warm through. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Taste your soup… add more fish sauce if it needs a salty flavor, more lime juice if you can’t taste the sour.
Time to eat! Serve yourself a piping hot bowl of meat, broth, and veggies. Squeeze with a lime wedge, sprinkle with a little more chopped cilantro, and add a dollop of Sriracha if you want a little more kick. Eat it all up, and you’ll soon FEEL the good things racing all over your body like tiny germ-seeking missiles!
It’s better freshly made, but it will still be delicious (and effective) refrigerated over the next day or so.
Oh, and get well soon!